Margaret Stafford and Jim Salter (Associated Press)
LIBERTY, Missouri (AP) — An 84-year-old man who shot a black teen when he accidentally went to Ralph Yahl’s home pleaded not guilty Wednesday. America.
Andrew Lester entered court with a cane and spoke quietly at Wednesday’s hearing. According to authorities, he first shot his 16-year-old honors student, Jarl, in the head, then confused the address with the house where he was supposed to pick up his brother, causing him to die after Jarl came to the door. He said he shot his arm.
The incident is one of three recent incidents involving a young man who was shot after accidentally showing up in the wrong place. Died. In Texas, two cheerleaders were shot when one of her cheerleaders accidentally got into her car thinking it was hers.
Jarl was shot in the head at point-blank range, but miraculously survived the bullet. Of about 10% of people who are shot in the head, he can only survive 15%, says Dr. Christopher Kang, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Lee Merritt, some civil rights leader and Jarl’s family attorney, urged the Justice Department to investigate the shooting and have prosecutors indict Lester for a hate crime, saying Merritt said that Yarl was “black-skinned.” They were armed alone,” he said.
Justice Department officials did not respond to calls seeking comment.
Clay County Prosecutor Zachary Thompson said first-degree assault is a higher offense and carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Lester remains free after agreeing to put $200,000 (10% of his $200,000 bond), relinquish his weapons, and have no contact with Yarl or his family. He also agreed to monitor his own cell phone.
Merritt said Yarl’s relatives were not present at Wednesday’s hearing because they were mentally exhausted. Lester’s attorney, Steve Salmon, did not come out of court to speak to reporters.
Merritt said Jarl was “totally humbled” by voices of support.
“He says, ‘I don’t know why people make a fuss about me,'” Merritt said. “Look, it’s just me, right? The president wasn’t shot.”
However, Eliana Brandland said it was hard not having her friends and fellow band members at Staley High School.
“He always brought positivity and a smile to our band’s classes and out-of-school rehearsals,” Brandland said in an interview with the Associated Press. “I hope people hear about Ralph and understand that he is a loving, kind and gentle person.”
Jarl was shot around 10 p.m. last Thursday after his mother asked him to pick up his twin brother at the 115th Terrace home, police chief Stacey Graves said.
Jarl, a member of the Jeonju Band and an honor student, accidentally ended up on 115th Street, a block away from where he intended. When he rang the bell, Lester came to the door and shot the teenager using a .32 caliber Smith and Wesson 1888 revolver.
Lester told police he lived alone and thought someone was trying to break in, so he was “frightened to death” when he saw Jarl on the balcony.
No words were exchanged before the shooting, but as Jarl tried to flee afterward, he heard Lester yell, “Don’t come here.”
According to court documents, Yarl ran to multiple homes and found someone to call the police for help.
Legal experts expect Lester to assert self-defense and cite Missouri’s “stand your ground” law. He is one of about 30 states with statues that say that if threatened, he does not have to retreat, instead responding with physical force.
But Merritt said the law only applies “if someone is on your property and they are trying to harm you….there is no evidence of that. In this case, the Castle Doctrine.” does not apply.”
The shooting infuriated many in Kansas City and across the country. President Joe Biden met with Jarl on Monday and invited him to the White House on Tuesday.
Biden tweeted, “No parent should worry about their child getting shot for ringing the wrong doorbell. We must continue the fight against gun violence.”
Republican Gov. Mike Parson, who remained silent about the shooting until Wednesday, accused Biden of politicizing it.
“I don’t want a 16-year-old to be shot for going to the wrong house. I just don’t want that to happen. It’s a tragedy,” Person told the Kansas City Star. “It’s very disappointing when the President of the United States is about to make a political statement about a tragedy of such serious consequence.”
Prosecutor Thompson said Monday that there was a “racial element” to the shooting, but did not elaborate. Prosecutors “reflected the language of law enforcement that there were clearly racial dynamics at work in this case,” said Merritt, who called the answer “shallow.”
Lester’s next trial date is June 1st.
“From this point forward, the state will push forward with this case as quickly as legally permitted,” Thompson said in a statement after Wednesday’s hearing.
But according to Merritt, Jarl’s family is frustrated that Lester is out on bail and the next court hearing won’t take place until June.
“We want this process to go as quickly as possible,” said Merritt. “And we know that if the defendant is in custody, they are free to delay the date a little longer, as opposed to when he is in custody.”
Salter reported from O’Fallon, Missouri. Her Heather Hollingsworth of Mission Kansas and Trisha Ahmed of Minneapolis contributed to this report.
https://www.mcall.com/2023/04/19/homeowner-who-shot-black-teen-ralph-yarl-pleads-not-guilty/ Homeowner who shot black teen Ralph Yahl pleads not guilty – The Morning Call