Kylr Yust, accused of killing two Cass County women who disappeared nine years apart, has waived a preliminary hearing and is scheduled to be formally arraigned June 18 as the case proceeds toward trial.
Yust, 29, appeared Thursday in Cass County Circuit Court in front of Judge Michael Rumley for a few minutes in a case review.
Yust was charged last October with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of abandonment of a corpse months after Kara Kopetsky's and Jessica Runions' remains were found in rural Cass County.
A public defender from St. Louis is representing Yust in the case. The court entered a not guilty plea on Yust's behalf following the filed murder charges in October.
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Several family members of Kopetsky and Runions filled the courtroom to watch the court proceeding Thursday. The next court hearing was initially going to be scheduled for two months earlier, in April.
Both families say they're ready to see the case move on.
"Of course we were hopeful for an earlier date, but he's waived his pre-trial, and that's a good thing," said Rhonda Beckford, mother of Kopetsky.
On behalf of the Kopetsky and Runions families, Beckford said they're grateful for the support they've received.
"We're just thankful for their continued support and we know they're going to be with us through the trial, and we're appreciative of that. We feel that support," Beckford said. "We're strengthened by it."
"We're ready for the next step," Jamie Runions, Jessica Runions' mother, added.
In February, a trial date was set in Henry County for Yust's half-brother, Jessep Carter. Carter is accused of fleeing from a deputy on the day Runions' burned SUV was found in Kansas City. Yust was with Carter at the time.
Jamie Runions said on Thursday she plans to be at Carter's trial, too.
"Wherever one is, we're both supporting both girls .... There's always going to be a presence. Where there's a court date, there's always going to be a presence," Runions said.
"United front. We're a team," Beckford added, "brought together by a tragedy but family nonetheless."
Earlier this week, Yust's attorney, Sharon Turlington, filed a motion asking the court to allow Yust to appear for all future court appearances in civilian clothing and without visible restraints. The attorney filed the motion in the high-profile case "in order to preserve his (Yust's) right to a fair trial by an impartial jury." The motion also suggests that news coverage of the case before trial "will indelibly impress upon the eventual jury panel an image of the accused in jail garb."
The prosecutor has filed an objection to this request.
In his response, Cass County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Butler argued that allowing the defendant to dress in civilian clothing for each court appearance "creates an additional security risk for the Cass County Sheriff's Office and would involve significant additional time and resources" from the sheriff's office. Butler also said that no other jail inmate is permitted to dress in civilian clothing in court, "unless it is at the jury trial."
"This defendant is not entitled to special privileges or benefits," Butler added.
The matter has been forwarded to the judge for review, online court records said. Judge Rumley did not make a decision on the motion on Thursday.