Kansas City homeowner charged in shooting of Black teen to appear in court

Kansas City homeowner charged in shooting of Black teen to appear in court


Ralph Yarl, a Black 16-year-old who was shot and wounded by a homeowner after mistakenly going to the wrong house to pick up his siblings, holds a bass clarinet in this picture obtained from social media. Lee Merritt/via REUTERS


(Reuters) – An 84-year-old white man charged in the shooting and wounding of a Black teenager who mistakenly walked up to the man’s house in Kansas City is expected to make his first court appearance on Wednesday.

Andrew Lester faces a first-degree assault charge, which could bring a sentence of life in prison, for shooting Ralph Yarl, 16, on the doorstep of his suburban home around 10 p.m. last Thursday. He was also charged with armed criminal action, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Lester is scheduled to appear in a Clay County courtroom for an arraignment hearing at 1:35 p.m. local time (1835 GMT), online court records showed.

No attorney was listed for Lester.

Lester was freed on a $200,000 bond after he surrendered to police on Tuesday.

On Thursday night, Yarl had walked up to Lester’s house to pick up his younger siblings, who were at a nearby house with a similar address. 

Lester fired two shots through a glass door with a .32-caliber revolver, prosecutors said. Yarl, who was struck in the head and an arm, did not cross the threshold, according to Clay County prosecutor Zachary Thompson. He added that it did not appear any words were exchanged in the encounter.

But Yarl told police in an interview at the hospital where he was treated that the man told him, “Don’t come around here,” local media reported, citing court documents.

Thompson has said the case has “a racial component,” without providing additional details. Prosecutors have not filed hate crime charges, which carry lesser penalties in Missouri than the two counts Lester faces.

The teen has been recovering at home, according to his family.

Lester was initially taken into custody, placed on a 24-hour investigative hold, then released pending an interview with Yarl and the collection of forensic evidence.

His swift release helped fuel days of protests.

In another case of a person being shot after going to the wrong address, a homeowner in upstate New York fatally wounded a 20-year-old woman on Saturday when she turned onto the wrong driveway while looking for a friend’s home.

Two Texas cheerleaders were also shot northeast of Austin after then got into the wrong car in a grocery store parking lot early on Tuesday. In both the New York and Texas incidents, the shooters have been charged with felonies.


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