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Yust Trial Day 4: State calls witnesses in Jessica Runions case

jamie runions pool photo yust trial day 4
Posted at 7:31 PM, Apr 08, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Four days into the double murder trial of Kylr Yust, witness testimony in the case of his second alleged victim, Jessica Runions, began.

The day started with the conclusion of wiretapped recording in which Yust is heard conducting a seance with Katelyn Farris in an attempt to contact the spirit of his first alleged victim, Kara Kopetsky.

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Yust can be heard telling Farris, "This really turns you on that I killed a girl?"

Farris denies it and Yust accuses her of trying to get him to confess. He can be heard saying "I f****** killed her."

Farris told jurors she initially felt conflicted about wearing the wire because she was good friends with Yust, but agreed to because “if I was in that position, I would have wanted someone to do the same for me."

The prosecution wrapped up its witness testimony in Kopetsky's case with more stories of alleged confessions to her murder Yust made to friends, as well as testimony from an FBI agent who specialized in cell phone records and worked on the Kopetsky case.

Testimony in the Runions case opened with statements from her mother, Jamie Runions, who talked about Jessica's character and her love for her sisters.

"Jessica used to call me mama bear, but she was a mama bear herself. She'd been taking care of her sisters since they were babies," Jamie Runions said.

Her testimony, though short, provided key details not previously known about the case, including the nature of a doctor's appointment Jessica Runions never showed up for.

Her mother said she'd just had an appendectomy and needed to go to the follow-up appointment to be cleared to return to work, which underlined how odd it was for her to miss it.

Jamie Runions said the seven months between when Jessica went missing and when her remains were found were the longest of her life.

The defense did not cross examine Jamie Runions.

Jurors also heard new details about the party Jessica Runions was at the night she disappeared.

The host, Alan Alvarado, and an attendee, Tiffany Vess, testified about the bonfire which Runions and Yust were present at.

They described erratic behavior from a drunken Yust. His mood shifted from affectionate and "clingy" to aggressive, Alvarado and Vess said.

The night culminated with an incident in which Yust backed into Alvarado's mom's car with Runions' vehicle. Alvarado, upset at the damage, took a photo which is time stamped 11:42 p.m. on Sept. 8, 2016.

That is the last time anyone saw Runions alive.

The fourth day of court wrapped up with testimony from retired Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department Sgt. Barbara Eckert, who was in charge of the homicide detective squad investigating Runions' death.

She read an exchange of emails between Yust and Runions which again displayed erratic mood swings and were at times sexually graphic in nature.

Two phone calls between Yust and his mother were also played in court from his early days in the Jackson County Detention Center.

In them, he tells her his upbringing played a role in the alleged killings. She asks him to tell her where Runions' body is so her family can have closure.

The defense seemed to argue his mother may have asked that to receive reward money that was being offered at the time for recovery of her body.

In the second call, Yust apologized for playing into the narrative that he'd killed the girls, saying "I didn't do anything, and I'm not going to sit here and pretend like I did."

His mother was upset by that and said he "drug her body out in the woods somewhere." Yust continued to deny it.

Court resumes at 8:30 a.m. Friday with more witness testimony in the Runions case.

41 Action News is committed to bringing you complete coverage of the trial of Kylr Yust, the man accused in the murders of Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions. Visit kshb.com/yusttrial for all our stories, case details, timeline and more.