Ralph Yarl: Man blamed for shooting youngster on doorstep pleads not guilty

A man from Kansas City has pleaded not guilty to assault and armed criminal action charges after being accused of shooting a teenager on his doorstep.

Ralph Yarl, a black teen trying to pick up his younger brothers, allegedly knocked on the wrong house’s door and was shot twice by Andrew Lester, 84.

Mr. Lester does not deny that he fired, but according to his lawyers, he thought the 16-year-old was a threat.

Mr. Lester could spend the rest of his life behind bars if he is found guilty.

Ralph Yarl claimed to have driven to Northeast 115 Street rather than Northeast 115th Terrace, which is nearby. His family claims that he is recovering from his injuries, and doctors have expressed surprise at his survival.

Mr. Lester slowly entered the Clay County Courthouse on Wednesday with the assistance of sheriff’s deputies and a cane, to a quiet hush.

He occasionally closed his eyes, giving the impression of being depressed, as the time drew nearer to the hearing. He gave the impression of being confused at times, but he answered the judge’s questions clearly overall.

Mr. Lester was ordered to surrender his passport and have his mobile phone monitored while he was free on bail pending his trial. Additionally, he was prohibited from being near the Yarl family or acquiring firearms.

His next trial is in June.

The Yarl family also believes that the crime had a racial component, according to a prosecutor, but Mr. Lester has not been charged with a hate crime.

The boy, according to the prosecution, “did not cross the threshold” of Mr. Lester’s house.

In the meantime, a Ralph Yarl fundraiser has raised more than £2.50 million. The GoFundMe page, began by his auntie, says the gifts will go towards his hospital expenses and treatment.

Any further supports will cover his schooling at Texas A&M College, and a hotly anticipated outing to West Africa.

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A Yarl family lawyer is calling for the case to be looked at by the federal government.

Mr. Lester was initially held by the police for questioning before being released without being charged, which sparked protests in Kansas City.

On Tuesday, Mr. Lester surrendered to the police and was released after posting 10% of the $200,000 bail amount. On Wednesday, he told the court that he had moved out of his home, which had been vandalized since the shooting.

The boy’s lawyer, Lee Merritt, told the BBC that the boy had speech issues and would need a long time to get better.

Mr. Merritt said, “I think he’s an amazing kid,” adding that the boy was surprised by the attention the case had received.

Mr. Merritt stated, “It’s a big deal because Ralph will make the change and the community is tired of their children being victimized.”