Kara Kopetsky vanished in 2007 and Jessica Runions in 2016, both after they were last seen with convicted killer Kylr Yust

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Jessica Runions, at left, and Kara Kopetsky

Kylr Yust said he didn't do it, blaming the murders of two Missouri women nearly 10 years apart on his dead half brother.

A jury disagreed, and on Thursday convicted Yust of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Kara Kopetsky in 2007 and second-degree murder for killing Jessica Runions in 2016.

"When Kara tried to end her relationship with Yust because of abuse, Yust said, 'If I can't have her nobody can," Cass County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Butler said at the start of Yust's trial. "Yust murdered Jessica with deliberation same as he did Kara before: Because no one else can have Jessica, either."

The verdicts were reported by KMBC, FOX4 KC and KCUR.

"To be technical, I don't really feel that justice was served as far as Kara's concerned," Kopetsky's mother, Rhonda Beckford, said Friday during the sentencing phase for the convicted killer, reports KMBC. Prosecutors had hoped to convict Yust of first-degree murder in both killings.

Kylr Yust
Kylr Yust
| Credit: Photo by Jill Toyoshiba/AP/Shutterstock

Beckford described her daughter as a "bright and shining light snuffed out too soon," and asked jurors to recommend a maximum prison term, because she believed "he will do this again."

"I'm so sorry Kara," she said, "I tried."

Yust took the stand in his own defense and named his half-brother Jessep Carter, who committed suicide in jail in 2018, as the purported true culprit, reports KCUR.

But in a wiretap recording, Yust appeared to confess to another ex-girlfriend that he'd strangled Kopetsky, reports FOX 4 KC. Other witnesses also testified that they'd heard him admit to it.

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Kylr Yust

Kopetsky and Yust dated for nine months in 2007, when both were teenagers, her mother told PEOPLE in 2016. Days before she went missing, Kopetsky filed for a restraining order against Yust, alleging he was violent towards her. Kopetsky, 17, was last seen leaving her high school in Belton, Missouri, during a free period on May 4, 2007.

Runions, 21, was last seen leaving a friend's house party on Sept. 8, 2016, allegedly with Yust, who was a friend of her boyfriend's.

Kopetsky's remains were found in 2017, in a rock quarry about nine miles from the school, and about 20 to 30 yards away from where Runions' remains also were discovered.

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Another Cass County prosecutor, Julie Tolle, argued in court that Yust was an "obsessive, jealous, pathetic" boyfriend who could not accept either woman becoming involved with another man, reports KCUR.

Second-degree murder carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison or life in prison without the possibility of parole; the maximum penalty for voluntary manslaughter is 15 years in prison.

Cass County Circuit Judge William Collins will consider the jury's recommendation when he imposes his sentence as soon as Friday.

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