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Ralph Yarl – update: Andrew Lester’s family ‘disgusted’ by shooting as stand your ground laws in spotlight

Ralph Yarl’s recovery continues at home in Kansas City while a GoFundMe to help pay his medical bills has now topped $3.4m

Rachel Sharp,Graeme Massie,Namita Singh
Friday 21 April 2023 19:49 BST
Ralph Yarl: Prosecutors charge Kansas City homeowner for shooting teen

The family of suspected shooter Andrew Lester have said they are “disgusted” by the 84-year-old’s shooting of Black teenager Ralph Yarl.

Mr Lester’s grandson Klint Ludwig told CNN that “myself and my family stand with Ralph Yarl and seeking justice”.

“This is a horrible tragedy, it never should have happened,” he said.

Mr Ludwig also revealed details about his grandfather’s “racist comments” and interest in “QAnon-level conspiracy theories” prior to the 13 April shooting.

The 84-year-old is accused of shooting Ralph, 16, twice through the glass screen door of his home in Kansas City, Missouri, when the Black teenager accidentally called at the wrong home to pick up his brothers.

Ralph’s recovery is still ongoing, with attorney Lee Merritt sharing a photo of him back at home following his release from hospital.

Meanwhile, Mr Lester appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday where he pleaded not guilty to two felonies.

The shooting has led to protests and an outpouring of support for Ralph from celebrities and donors to a GoFundMe campaign, as the incident casts a renewed spotlight on America’s “stand your ground” laws and whether they help to fuel random shootings and racism.


Prosecutors release statement on Ralph Yarl case

Following Andrew Lester’s not-guilty pleas, Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Zachary Thompson released a statement on the case moving forward.

“Today, an arraignment was held in the case of State of Missouri v. Andrew D. Lester. In Missouri, every defendant is entitled to an initial arraignment where charges are read and a next court date set. In this case, the defendant waived formal reading of the charges and the Court continued the case to June 1, 2023 at 1:30 p.m.

“The purpose of this continuance is to allow the defendant’s attorney, who only filed his entry of appearance today, to review the case and for the State to fulfill its statutory and constitutional obligations to provide discovery to the defendant. 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.”

Graeme Massie19 April 2023 20:17

Missouri governor makes statement, a week after shooting

“It is a tragedy anytime a 16-year-old is shot, and Ralph Yarl is no exception. I trust law enforcement to continue conducting a thorough investigation and expect a fair and just result,” tweeted Governor Mike Parson, a Republican, on Wednesday.

Graeme Massie19 April 2023 20:28

Ralph Yarl shooting investigated as hate crime as suspect Andrew Lester pleads not guilty

The 84-year-old suspect remains out on bond until the next hearing on 1 June.

Ralph Yarl shooting investigated as hate crime as Andrew Lester pleads not guilty

The 84-year-old suspect remains out on bond until next hearing on 1 June

Graeme Massie19 April 2023 20:37

Andrew Lester makes first court appearance

Andrew Lester pleads not guilty in first court appearance over shooting of Ralph Yarl. (KMBC)
Graeme Massie19 April 2023 20:47

Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Kardashian voice outrage over shooting of Black teen Ralph Yarl

Hollywood actors and celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Kardashian have spoken out to demand justice for a Black teenager who was shot in the head by a white homeowner in Kansas City.

Ralph Yarl, a 16-year-old high school junior, was shot twice last Thursday when he accidentally went to the wrong house to pick up his younger twin brothers.

Protesters have been demanding justice for Ralph and a growing chorus of celebrities are weighing in on the case, voicing outrage over the shooting and the treatment of his accused attacker.

Actor Gwyneth Paltrow wrote on Instagram: “#RalphYarl accidentally rang the doorbell of the wrong house in KCMO. He was trying to pick his younger siblings. The white owner of the hours shot this Black child in the head. He shot him again as Ralph bled out. The shooter is free. No charges. This is America.”

Kim Kardashian also used her platform to condemn the shooting, sharing an infographic of what happened to the teenage boy.

Read the story here:

Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Kardashian voice outrage over Ralph Yarl shooting

Celebrities Naomi Campbell, Halle Berry, and Viola Davis have also voiced support as outrage grows over the shooting and the treatment of the man responsible

Graeme Massie19 April 2023 21:26

New photo captures Ralph Yarl recovering at home

A new photo has captured Black teenager Ralph Yarl recovering at home from his injuries from last week’s shooting.

Lee Merritt, the civil rights attorney representing the family, posted a photo on Twitter of himself with the 16-year-old.

“Ralph Yarl is home and recovering! How the bullet in his head did not cause more extensive damage is truly a miracle. To God be the glory!” wrote Mr Merritt.

Graeme Massie19 April 2023 21:57

Pictures from Andrew Lester arraignment

Andrew Lester appears in court to answer charges of first-degree assault and armed criminal action on Wednesday, April 19, 2023 in Liberty, Mo. (AP)
Attorney Lee Merritt, representing Ralph Yarl, talks to the media before attending an arraignment for Andrew Lester at the Clay County Courthouse, Wednesday, April 19, 2023, in Liberty, Mo. (AP)
Graeme Massie19 April 2023 22:26

Why have hate crime charges not been filed?

On Monday afternoon, Clay County prosecutor Zachary Thompson finally announced that Mr Lester had been charged with two felonies: assault in the first degree, which carries a punishment of 10 to 30 years or life imprisonment, and armed criminal action, which carries a punishment of 3 to 15 years.

However, more than 20 hours passed before Mr Lester was taken into custody.

He surrendered to authorities on Tuesday before being released again less than two hours later after posting $200,000 bond.

Under the conditions of his release, he is not allowed to possess weapons of any type or have any contact with Ralph or his family.

He is due to appear in court for his arraignment on Wednesday.

Ralph’s attorneys have questioned why the suspect has not been charged with attempted murder.

While Mr Merritt said the family is happy that two felony charges have been brought, he has questions as to why Mr Lester has not been charged with attempted murder.

He told CBS Mornings that, while Mr Lester’s age may be a factor in the case, the “current and former president of the United States is about that age”. “He made a conscious decision to shoot a 16-year-old boy,” he said.

He added that the case should qualify as a hate crime.

“Ralph Yarl was shot because he was armed with nothing but other than his Black skin,” he said.

When asked if Mr Lester could also be charged with a hate crime, the prosecutor said on Monday that it would not be possible under state law.

In Missouri, a hate crime is a lower level of felony and to add the charge would amount to double jeopardy, he said.

Graeme Massie19 April 2023 23:32

Ralph Yarl rang the wrong doorbell and was shot by Andrew Lester. These key questions remain unanswered

Ralph Yarl had no reason to think he was in danger when he approached the house where believed his younger brothers were waiting for him to pick them up, his family say.

“He got a couple of bullets inside his body, instead of a couple of twins coming out and giving him a hug,” Ralph’s mother Cleo Nagbe said in her first interview after the shooting.

Prosecutors have charged Andrew Lester, 85, with shooting Ralph twice on the evening of 13 April when the 16-year-old accidentally mixed up the older man’s address with that of his brothers’ friends.

Although Ralph survived and is reportedly in good spirits, the shooting sparked protests in Kansas City and condemnation across the country, with activists and civil rights lawyers describing it as part of a pattern of white Americans using deadly force against unarmed Black people based on exaggerated and unreasonable ideas of danger.

Yet many questions remain over exactly what happened, not just on the night of the shooting but in the three days that followed without any charges being announced against Ralph’s assailant.

Here are some of the questions that still need answering:

These key questions remain unanswered in the Ralph Yarl shooting

As Ralph Yarl begins a long road to recovery and Andrew Lester faces the possibility of a life sentence on felony charges, Io Dodds explains what we still don’t know about the shooting

Graeme Massie19 April 2023 23:56

Will Andrew Lester try to claim self-defence?

Legal experts believe Andrew Lester’s lawyers will claim self-defence under Missouri’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows for using deadly force if a person is in fear for their life.

Missouri is among roughly 30 states with such statutes.

Robert Spitzer, a professor emeritus of political science at the State University of New York, Cortland, whose research focuses on gun policy and politics, said the Missouri law provides “wide latitude for people to use lethal force.”

St Louis defence attorney Nina McDonnell agreed. She said prosecutors have a strong case but that the Stand Your Ground law defence is a “huge hurdle” to overcome.

“The defendant was in his house and has expressed that he was in fear,” McDonnell said.

Associated Press

Graeme Massie20 April 2023 00:26

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