Charged: Andrew Lester to appear for the shooting of Ralph Yarl

Charged: Andrew Lester to appear for the shooting of Ralph Yarl
Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 7:21 AM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Andrew Lester, who is charged with one count of felony assault and one count of armed criminal action in the shooting of Ralph Yarl, is scheduled to appear in Clay County Court Wednesday morning.

84-year-old Lester is charged with those counts in the shooting of 17-year-old Yarl that happened nearly five months ago. Yarl claims he accidentally approached the wrong address, which was Lester’s home, when picking up his siblings. Yarl was then shot twice -- once in the head and once in the right arm.

Wednesday morning’s arraignment is scheduled for 8:30 a.m.

Yarl suffered traumatic brain injuries from the shootings and was released from the hospital four days later, which was the same day Lester was taken into custody.

Lester could face life in prison if convicted.

The Clay County Court said the reasoning for Wednesday’s appearance is that Lester was bound over to Circuit Court from Associate Circuit Court, so there still has to be an arraignment in Circuit Court when this happens without an indictment.

Lester’s attorney, Steven Salmon, argued in a legal filing that the court record should be sealed, noting that Lester has been harassed and threatened since the shooting became public. Protests and rallies ensued days after reaching all the way to national coverage of it. Yarl’s mother and Lee Merritt, who represents Ralph Yarl and his family, appeared on CBS This Morning with Gayle King days later to share their side of the story.

Salmon also noted that the publicity could make it difficult to find an impartial jury and that potential witnesses may be reluctant to testify.

Lester was released on a $200,000 bond and pleaded not guilty to both charges on April 19.

KCTV5 was at Lester’s preliminary hearing in late August where six witnesses took the stand during the first half of the day -- three neighbors and three police officers.

Lester’s neighbor of nearly 40 years recounted the night saying they heard gunshots and that Yarl ran to their house screaming he had been shot. They called the police right away. Another neighbor said they did not hear gunshots but they were inside her home when Yarl knocked on their door asking for help as well. The neighbor said blood was all over their front porch.

Lester’s 911 call was played to the court and our KCTV5 reporter notes Lester could be heard saying things like, “He wanted in my house and I shot him,” “He was at my door trying to get in,” and “The weapon is here with me right beside me.”

One officer there on the scene said Lester admitted to shooting the victim but told him that he hoped he hadn’t killed anyone.

Yarl and his mother took the stand as well.

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