KANSAS CITY MO. The white homeowner who shot a Black teen, Ralph Yarl after Yarl accidentally rang his doorbell, pleaded not guilt Wednesday. This attack has brought new attention to “stand-your-ground” laws across the country.
Andrew Lester (84), appeared briefly in front of a judge at the circuit court in Clay County in Missouri after surrendering himself to authorities on Wednesday for felony charges relating to assault in first degree and armed crime. He was later released on bail of $200,000
Lester was wearing a blue-and-tan jacket with matching pants and was in court for less than 10 seconds. He was surrounded by 4 guards. When his case was called, he limped to the front and answered the judge in a mumbled manner. He walked slowly with a cane.
The judge told him to give up his passport, that he could not own a gun and that he must avoid Yarl.
Lester remains under bond supervision. A preliminary hearing date has not been set.
Lester could face a maximum prison sentence of up to life on the assault charge, and between three and 15 years for the gun charge if found guilty.
The shooting happened late Thursday night, as Yarl, 16 went to pick his twin brothers up from their home in the Northland neighborhood of Kansas City. He went to the wrong address, NE 115th Street instead of NE 115th Terrace.
According to the probable cause statement, the homeowner confronted Yarl after he rang the doorbell around 10 pm. The homeowner then shot out of a glass window. According to prosecutors, he was shot in the head after falling and in the arm.
The probable cause statement stated that Lester told investigators he went to bed after the doorbell rang and then grabbed his.32 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol before going to the front.
Lester claimed he saw an unknown Black male pulling on his exterior storm door handle, and thought that someone was breaking into his house. Police wrote that he fired twice through a glass door. Lester said he dialed 911 using his home phone after the male fled. He told police he had seen a car parked in his driveway, which he thought belonged to a male. However, he did not see anyone inside.
Lester, the policeman, told them that no words were exchanged.
Lester told police that firing his gun “was not what he wanted to, but was scared to death” by the size and age of the male.
Lester stated that he lives by himself. In the probable cause statement, a police detective noted that he had noticed a home security system and taken the hard drive in order to preserve any possible evidence. However, he later discovered the equipment was no longer operational and the last video it recorded occurred in June.
Yarl told police a completely different story when he first spoke to the police at the hospital after the shooting. He told a police detective that he didn’t pull on the front door, but that he rang the bell and was waiting for an armed person to appear in front of him.
Yarl told police that he “was immediately shot in his head and fell down to the ground.” According to the document, he told police he had been shot in the left arm before running away. Yarl told police he heard someone say “Don’t go around here” and then ran away.
Lee Merritt said that Yarl had suffered permanent injuries due to a fractured skull, brain tissue loss and scarring. However, she is expected to recover close to fully, according to her family lawyer.
Merritt says that there are still unanswered questions in the case. These include why Lester was freed two hours after he had been questioned and why the prosecutors have not clarified if the shots were fired inside or outside the home.
We’re frustrated by the failure of law enforcement to accept responsibility for the denial due process to this family. Merritt stated that no one had admitted to the crime. This 16-year old boy was not a real threat. In America, however, the skin is often used as a weapon.
Clay County Prosecuting attorney Zachary Thompson stated that there was a race component to the case. However, the charges did not specify whether or not the shooting was motivated by racial motives.
Thompson’s office said that Lester would not be charged as a hate criminal because it is a lesser crime than the one he was charged with.
Lester’s plans are unclear. The “stand your ground law” of the state does not require that a person who is defending their life or property retreats before taking violent action.
Lester’s legal representative could not be immediately reached Wednesday for comment.
The case has racial overtones and sparked outrage among Black celebrities, who have demanded that the authorities make an arrest for the shooting. It also sparked rallies of young people who support Yarl, a honors student, who wants to study chemical engineer in college.
Joe Biden spoke with Yarl and his mother on Monday about Yarl’s recovery and the commitment to stop gun violence.
Deon Hampton reported from Kansas City and Erik Ortiz, from New York.