Judge change denied

The murder trail of Kylr Yust remains scheduled to begin on April 5 and a number of details concerning the case were decided last week and another should be answered this week. The two major developments were the denial of a request for change of judge and the dropping of two charges against Yust. The court also heard a motion to suppress an alleged confession to a former girlfriend.

On Wednesday, a hearing was held on a motion by the defense team to replace Judge William Collins from the case. Judge Brandon Baker, presiding judge in the 27th Judicial District, which includes Bates and Henry counties, was appointed by the state supreme court to conduct the hearing.

The defense presented an anonymous letter which had been mailed to defense attorney Sharon Turlington. The letter stated Collins had spoken with one of the victim’s family about the case. Collins denied any wrongdoing when the motion was entered the previous week and the couple, Rhonda and Jim Beckford, Kara Kopetsky’s mother and step father both denied under oath having spoken with the judge.

The defense also accused Collins of violating protocol by sharing its motion with the media.

Cass County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Butler said the motion was based on a letter which had an unknown author.

“The accusations are baseless and completely unfounded and there’s been no evidence presented to assume otherwise. There were efforts to bootstrap this court to issues already settled,” Butler said.

Baker apparently agreed, taking less than five minutes to deny the motion for the change of judge.

On Thursday, with Collins back on the bench, the court heard testimony from a former FBI agent about the alleged confession. The defense accused the former agent, Dirk Tarpley, of having a former girlfriend flirt and “offer the opportunity for sex” in an attempt to gain his confession.

Yust’s attorneys, in a motion to suppress the FBI recording, said the girlfriend was specifically flown to Missouri to meet Yust and tell her what had happened.

Tarpley denied advising Farris to flirt or offer sex to Yust during the meeting.

“There’s absolutely no way that I would ever tell her to do that,” he said in court.

While the defense wants the confession thrown out, Butler argued the FBI did not entrap Yust.

Butler said, “Good police work is not suppressible.”

Collins was expected to rule on the motion yesterday morning.

Another development was the dropping of two charges against Yust, two counts of abandoning a corpse. The motion was made by the prosecution and no reason was given.

It was agreed Yust would be transferred to St. Charles County March 29, two days before jury selection begins in that county. The arrangement is being made so his attorneys will have more time to work with him prior to returning to Cass County for the trial. A jury is being selected in St. Charles County.

Yust is accused of murdering Kara Kopetsky in 2007 and Jennifer Runions in Kopetsky was 17 when she was last seen alive at 9:19 a.m. May 4, 2007, on Belton High School surveillance footage. Runions was last seen alive Sept 8, 2016, when she and Yust were seen leaving a party in Grandview.

Both bodies were missing until April 2017 when they were discovered by a mushroom hunter in the area of 233 Street and Y Highway in Cass County. Yust was arrested for the murder of both women in October of that year.