In Kansas City, Missouri, a judge ruled on Thursday that the 84-year-old Caucasian resident, who shot an African American teenager by accident when the teenager mistakenly entered the man’s residence, must face trial.
During the preliminary hearing, which took place in Angles Louis County Clay, several witnesses, including Yarl Ralph and Lester Andrew, testified about the incident where a teenager, who mistakenly entered the wrong house, shot Yarl’s younger brothers when he went to pick them up on April 13th.
His next court date, an arraignment, is set for September 20th. In the United States, the shooting that startled the nation and sparked fresh discussions on gun regulations and racial issues, he previously entered a plea of not guilty. Lester, a former airplane mechanic, is facing charges of first-degree assault and armed criminal activity.
Yarl softly spoke, testifying that he had lost his way on the street, but he intended to go to his own house just a few blocks away. He didn’t have a phone, but he was sent to pick up his twin siblings from school.
Yarl mentioned that he rang the doorbell and the wait for someone to respond felt “more prolonged than usual,” according to him.
When the inner door opened, Yarl mentioned that he extended his hand to seize the storm door.
“I presume these individuals are the parents of my brother’s friends,” he stated.
ANALYSIS: The American entrance can be a dangerous boundary between the public and personal spaces.
Yarl remembered, “Never return to this place,” it was Lester who informed him. He mentioned being hit in the head, the force causing him to fall to the ground, and subsequently being shot in the arm.
As Lester prepared to sleep, he was filled with fear when an unfamiliar person came to his door, according to Steve Salmon, Lester’s lawyer, during his final statements. Salmon argued that Lester’s actions were in self-defense.
Salmon stated that because of his advanced age and physical handicap, he lacks the ability to defend himself, describing Lester as extremely disturbed after the occurrence.
“A tragic incident took place, but it is not illegal,” Salmon stated.
“Although Thompson Zachary, the District Attorney of Missouri, said that he offers legal protections for people defending themselves, a child without a weapon shot to the right through a door, without any reason to do so.”
Following the shooting, Officer Larry Dunaway of Kansas City characterized Lester as “a frightened elderly gentleman.” Another officer, James Gale, confirmed that Lester was visibly concerned.
“He stated that he wished he hadn’t caused harm to anyone,” Gale testified.
A handful of people in the courtroom were wearing shirts that read “Justice for Ralph,” while others were not involved in the crime. The doorbell rang.
READ MORE: Ralph Yarl participates in a brain injury event weeks after being shot in the head.
In preparation for the autumn, Yarl has scheduled multiple college tours with a focus on pursuing a degree in engineering after his graduation. Despite recovering from a traumatic brain injury, he managed to complete an engineering internship over the summer, and now he has begun his senior year in high school.
Yarl was terrified because he was robbed, without any warning, by the person who shot through the door at Lester’s house. The authorities mistakenly ended up at the wrong block, but Yarl was supposed to pick up his younger brothers.
He yelled, pointing a gun at me. The dispatcher testified that she had warned the neighbors to stay inside — she offered words of comfort through her window. Carol Conrad stumbled to Yarl Street, testifying that she initially turned away while seeking help from neighboring homes.
When Yarl crumpled to the ground, three neighbors rushed to help Dovel Jodi, testifying that there was a trail of pooled blood under his head. The shot was fired and he went to ring the doorbell, telling her.
“I thought. ‘Oh no, he went to the incorrect residence,'” Dovel said.
“Lester could be heard recounting to a dispatcher on the recording played in court that he had fired at the individual who was attempting to enter his residence. Additionally, Lester placed a call to 911.”
Salmon stated in earlier court filings that Lester argued that he planned to act in self-defense. Missouri is one of about 30 states that allow people to respond with physical force when they are threatened, under the laws of “stand your ground”.
Following the shooting incident, Salmon stated that Lester’s residence was targeted with eggs and vandalized with spray paint. Lester, while on the move, has requested help from law enforcement, and he mentioned that his wife had to be relocated from her nursing home.
Over the past few months, a GoFundMe campaign set up on behalf of Yarl and his family has garnered almost $3.5 million in support.