KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — An 84-year-old man charged in the shooting of 16-year-old Ralph Yarl appeared in court Wednesday.
Andrew Lester was charged Monday with first-degree assault and armed criminal action in Clay County. He surrendered on Tuesday at the county jail and, later that day, was released after posting bond.
The 84-year-old entered court Wednesday with a cane, and his attorney pleaded not guilty on his behalf.
As part of Lester’s bond conditions, he will not be allowed to possess any weapons, cannot leave the state without permission, and cannot have contact with Yarl or his family.
Lester is accused of shooting the 16-year-old last week after the teen accidentally went to the wrong house to pick up his siblings.
Kansas City police said just before 10 p.m. April 13, Yarl was picking up his younger siblings at a home on N.E. 115th Terrace when he mistakenly went to a house on N.E. 115th Street.
When he arrived at the home and rang the doorbell, Lester shot Yarl, court documents say. Prosecutors say Lester fired through a glass door, and Yarl did not enter the home.
Records say Lester shot the teen twice, once above his left eye and a second time in his upper right arm.
According to court documents, Yarl said Lester told him, “Don’t come around here” after the shooting.
“As the prosecutor of Clay County, I can tell you there was a racial component,” Clay County Prosecutor Zachary Thompson said Monday. Local activists and protesters have called for hate crime charges to be filed against Lester.
The night of the shooting, Lester was taken into police custody for questioning and then released. Police said the investigation called for more work than they could complete during the 24-hour holding period.
Yarl’s family and attorney believe the case moved so quickly only because of the national outcry.
“In those 24 hours, they were able to get a witness statement,” attorney Lee Merritt told News 2’s sister station, WDAF, on Tuesday.
“They had more than enough probable cause to make an arrest, and it’s a pretext that they’re standing behind because they’re embarrassed about their lack of action, that they had to be shamed into action.”
Yarl’s family said the 16-year-old was released from the hospital Monday. Yarl’s mother, Cleo Nagbe, said he’s only home because of the medical experts in their family who are supporting him.
Nagbe said one of the bullets remained in Ralph’s temple for 12 hours before it could be removed.
Merritt said Wednesday that Yarl suffered a traumatic brain injury, but he’s expected to make a full recovery. The attorney noted that if the bullet hit Yarl’s head a fraction of an inch in any other direction, he would probably be dead right now.