An 84-year-old man charged with shooting 16-year-old Ralph Yarl has pleaded not guilty. As The Shade Room previously reported, the incident occurred on April 13 in Kansas City after Yarl mistakenly arrived at the man’s house intending to pick up his siblings.
According to KCTV, Andrew Lester appeared for an in-person arraignment hearing at the Clay County Courthouse on Wednesday.
The homeowner has been charged with two felonies in relation to the shooting. One charge is for “assault in the first degree,” and another is for “armed criminal action.”
Lester pleaded not guilty to both charges.
Zachary Thompson, a Clay County prosecuting attorney, has since shared a statement with the outlet.
“From this point forward, the State will be pushing to move this case forward as swiftly as legally permitted. While charges have been filed, this remains an active investigation. We are continuing to work with law enforcement to gather any and all evidence available in this case. If anyone in the community has information that would assist in this case, we ask that you please contact the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department or other law enforcement. Now that this is an active and pending case, our office is severely limited in the information we can publicly disclose. This is due to our desire to protect the legal integrity of the case and ensure that justice is served for the victim and our community. Despite these restrictions, we will be as transparent as legally permitted and strive to keep the public informed of any developments.”
The case will be continued on June 1, as reported by the outlet.
Lester will remain on bail and be “barred from owning a weapon or having contact with Yarl,” KCUR reports.
According to KCUR, a civil rights attorney representing Yarl’s family, Lee Merritt, also shared a statement with reporters following the arraignment.
Merritt explained that he and Yarl’s additional attorney Ben Crump have “longstanding relationships” with the U.S. Department of Justice.
“We thought that this was something the DOJ should be looking into. They are (looking into it). It’s under investigation, they’ve received our complaint and now they’re looking into it.”
Additionally, Merritt explained that he wants to see Lester “spend the rest of his life in prison.
“I want him to spend the rest of his life in prison. All of his assets are going to become Ralph’s.”
Furthermore, Merritt also expressed that he hopes this case sets a precedence in the country.
“I don’t have any concern about (Lester being exonerated) under the law. I have a concern because of the culture. In American jurisprudence, it is difficult to convict a white man for harming a Black child. It should not be so, and I’m hoping this case turns the tide.”
As The Shade Room previously reported, Yarl’s classmates from Staley High School recently came together for a unity walk supporting the 16-year-old.
Over 1,500 students participated in the walk and sported the color blue, which is Yarl’s favorite. Additionally, they chanted “We love you, Ralph” and “Justice for Ralph” as they marched.
As The Shade Room previously reported, the incident occurred on April 13 after Ralph Yarl’s parents reportedly asked him to pick up his siblings from an address on 115th Terrance. However, the 16-year-old mistakenly went to a home on 115th Street, where Lester reportedly struck him in the head and arm.
Yarl left the hospital on Monday and is now continuing his recovery at home.