Judge Rules That Andrew Lester Must Stand Trial in Shooting of Kansas City Teen Ralph Yarl

The 84-year-old White man will face justice for nearly killing the unarmed Black high school student.

A Missouri judge ruled Thursday (Aug. 31) that an elderly White man must stand trial for shooting and seriously injuring unarmed Black teenager Ralph Yarl in April when the high school honor student mistakenly rang his doorbell in Kansas City, the Associated Press reports.

Andrew Lester, 84, pleaded not guilty on April 20 to first-degree assault and armed criminal action.

The ruling came after a preliminary hearing to determine whether to move forward with a criminal trial. Lester is now slated to appear in court on Sept. 20 for an arraignment.

Lester’s lawyer, Steve Salmon, argued at the hearing that Lester, a retired aircraft mechanic, was defending himself, fearful that the Black teen might harm him. He added that his client is distraught by the shooting.

Yarl, now 17, was among the witnesses who testified in the Clay County courtroom. At least six other witnesses – three neighbors and three police officers – also testified, and a recording of Lester’s 911 call was played, local station KCTV reported.

A couple, who were Lester’s neighbors for 37 years, testified that they heard gunshots on April 13 and that Yarl appeared at their door frantically screaming that he was shot and needed help. Another neighbor who didn’t hear the shots said she went outside to help the bleeding teen when he knocked on her door.

One of the three officers who responded to the shooting said Lester was cooperative and asked about the well-being of the person he shot. In the recorded 911 call, Lester claimed that Yarl was “at my door trying to get in,” and that he shot Yarl inside his house.

Ralph Yarl: What We Know So Far About The Shooting Of Unarmed Missouri Black Teen

According to prosecuting attorney Zachary Thompson, Lester shot Yarl on April 13 when the then 16-year-old high school honor student went to Lester’s house, mistaking the neighborhood's 115th Terrace for 115th Street, to pick up his younger brothers from a friend’s house.

When he rang the bell, Lester came to the door and used a .32 caliber Smith and Wesson 1888 revolver to shoot the teenager – first in the head and then in the arm when Yarl fell to the ground.

In June, Yarl told ABC’s Good Morning America host Robin Roberts that when he went to pick up his twin brothers from a friend's house on April 13, he accidentally showed up at the wrong address.

Pulling his vehicle into the driveway he walked up the steps and rang the doorbell and then waited for "a long time" until an older white man armed with a gun opened the front door.

"He points [the gun] at me … so I kinda, like, brace, and I turn my head," Yarl said "Then it happened. And then I'm on the ground ... and then I fall on the glass. The shattered glass. And then before I know it I'm running away shouting, 'Help me, help me.'"

Thompson has said there was a "racial component" to the incident. Lester was widely expected to claim self-defense under Missouri’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which says a person defending their life or property does not have to retreat before taking violent action.

“You don’t have a right to shoot an unarmed kid through a door,” Thompson has said about Lester’s self-defense argument.

Meanwhile, Yarl continues his recovery since his release from the hospital. He now lives with a traumatic brain injury. His family has hired a trauma-informed psychologist and therapist to work with him.

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