Andrew Lester, a resident of Kansas City, is at the center of a legal case that has garnered attention. In April, a tragic event unfolded when Ralph Yarl, a teenager, accidentally approached Lester’s house and was shot. Recently, during his arraignment, Lester entered a plea of not guilty on September 20, Wednesday. The court has ruled that the case will move forward to trial, scheduled to start on October 7, 2024. Lester’s attorney, Steven Salmon, has expressed his client’s unwavering denial of the charges.
Details of the Case
On the evening of April 13, a tragic incident occurred in Kansas City, Missouri when Andrew Lester, a resident of the city, reportedly shot Ralph Yarl in the head and right arm. This unfortunate event took place because Yarl mistakenly arrived at Lester’s residence to collect his twin siblings. Clay County prosecuting attorney Zachary Thompson announced during a press conference on April 17 that Lester has been charged with first-degree felony assault and armed criminal action.
After hearing testimony from Ralph Yarl, his mother Cleo Nagbe, and ten other witnesses, Clay County Judge Louis Angles determined during the preliminary hearing on August 31 that there was enough evidence to hold a trial. Yarl shared the harrowing experience of the moments leading up to the shooting, mentioning that he rang the doorbell and waited for a longer time than usual.
As he approached the main interior door and attempted to open the locked glass storm door, he was suddenly shot in the head and fell to the ground. He got up after some time and ran away from Andrew Lester’s home and was surprised to notice that he was bleeding from his head. He recalled Lester’s warning, delivered after shooting him in the head and arm, to never return. The five words were: “Don’t come here ever again.” Yarl told reporters that he was wondering how it was possible because he had been shot in the head.
When the doorbell rang and Andrew Lester saw a Black male, he told Kansas City police officers that he decided to grab his gun. He explained that he felt the need to protect himself from a possible physical confrontation. Yarl told ABC that after he got shot, he went to different houses seeking help before someone finally agreed to take him to a hospital. He went to the house across the street first, but nobody answered.
Then he went to the house next to it, and someone opened the door and told him to wait for the police. Yarl’s mom, Cleo Nagbe, was worried when he didn’t come back after picking up his siblings. Nagbe was filled with fear when the police notified her that he had been shot and was being treated at the hospital. She described it as a harrowing ordeal. Sitting next to her son, Nagbe added that even though he looked fine outside, a lot had been taken from him because of what happened.
Ralph Yarl: The Victim
Ralph Yarl is a seventeen-year-old African-American boy who faced a tough journey after a brain injury. But now, he has made an impressive recovery and even took part in a brain injury awareness event held in Kansas City in May. To help cover his medical bills and therapy, Yarl’s family started a GoFundMe campaign.
Their efforts were incredibly successful, raising an incredible $3.4 million. Yarl’s musical talents, playing multiple instruments, earned him recognition and praise, which inspired many people to contribute to the fundraiser. Looking ahead, Yarl has big plans. Before starting his studies in chemical engineering at Texas A&M University, he wanted to visit West Africa. There, he hopes to explore the vibrant culture and connect with his roots.
When asked what he considered justice to be in his case, since the shooting received national attention, Yarl responded by saying that he believed Lester should be found guilty. He explained that justice meant following the rule of law, regardless of someone’s race, ethnicity, or age. During the trial, two doctors provided testimony about the injuries suffered by Ralph Yarl. It was confirmed that Yarl sustained gunshot wounds to his right upper arm and the left side of his forehead, just above his eye.
The next day, Dr. Sheila Alton, an emergency doctor at Liberty Hospital, performed a surgical procedure to extract the bullet fragment lodged in his skull. As a result, he continues to experience the effects of a traumatic brain injury, as noted by Dr. Nagbe. While Yarl has been slowly getting better, he is now focusing on his plans for college visits.
Nevertheless, his mother shared concern expressing how Yarl feels the need to be watchful wherever he goes. Yarl simply desires to have a normal senior year and graduate like any other person, seeking some sense of normality in his life amidst the challenges he has faced. The shooting incident sparked nationwide anger and led to protests in Kansas City. Since the incident, Yarl and his family have shifted their residence.
Charges on Andrew Lester
While many labeled the shooting as racially motivated, Thompson, the prosecutor, clarified that the two felonies Lester faces are unrelated to race. He emphasized that there is no racial component in the charges of assault in the first degree or armed criminal action. Thompson’s main focus remains on following the requirements of the law.
Regarding hate crime charges, Thompson explained that they were not pursued due to the limitations of Missouri’s hate crime laws. The penalties for the two felonies Lester already faces are more severe than those associated with hate crimes. At the defense team’s request in May, the judge decided to keep the high-profile case sealed from the public. The judge stated that the case had portrayed Lester in a negative light.
Meanwhile, Lester’s lawyer, Steven Salmon, revealed that his client had been forced to leave his home and was dealing with various health issues. Zachary Thompson, the prosecuting attorney for Clay County, and Yarl’s family both opposed the sealing of the case from the public. According to reports, Lester has been subjected to harassment and physical threats at his residence. His house has been defaced with eggs and spray paint. It has been necessary for Lester to seek assistance from law enforcement for any travel due to these incidents. Now, as the trial will start on October 7, 2024, we must wait and watch what happens.
Andrew Lester, an 84-year-old facing life in prison for shooting Ralph Yarl, a teenager who mistakenly approached his house, has gained attention. Despite entering a plea of not guilty, the court has ruled that the case will proceed to trial.