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Kansas Man Who Admittedly Shot Ralph Yarl After Black Teen Mistakenly Rang His Doorbell Wants Case Sealed to Stop Harassment, Secure Fair Trial

The Kansas City, Kansas man who reportedly shot Black teen Ralph Yarl for ringing his doorbell wants the courts to seal details from the public.

Attorneys for 84-year-old Andrew D. Lester claim since the April 13 shooting random people have harassed him, vandalized his home, and created the need for him to relocate several times as well as for his wife to move to a new nursing home.

Ralph Yarl Shot by Andrew Lester
Andrew Lester, right, admitted to shooting Ralph Yarl, left. (Photos: GoFundMe/Twitter)

The prosecution has responded to the defense request by saying the public has the right to know about the case in real-time.

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On April 19, Lester pled not guilty to first-degree assault and armed criminal action for the shooting. He is accused of shooting Yarl twice: once in the head and again after he fell and hit the porch floor.

The assault charge is a class A felony. If found guilty, the senior citizen could face no fewer than 10 years and up to 30 years or life in prison, possibly spending the rest of his life in prison, according to local station KCUR.

According to a probable cause statement, Lester told police he saw the 6-foot then-16-year-old standing on his porch at about 9:40 p.m. and was afraid because of his size. Yarl rang Lester’s doorbell after parking in his driveway while thinking the address at 115th Street was where he was supposed to pick up two of his younger brothers, but those boys were at an address on nearby 115th Terrace.

Lester’s attorney told Clay County Judge Louis Angles this week the only way Lester can have a fair trial is for the court to rule in his favor on concealing information regarding the case from the public.

Steven Salmon, the man’s attorney, said in the hearing his client has received threats and been labeled a racist by those angry about the incident.

The threats were linked to a “firestorm of inaccurate information” spread by celebrities like Viola Davis, Kim Kardashian, Halle Berry, and various national and international media outlets, the defense claims.

Berry tweeted, “His name is #RalphYarl and I’m sick and tired of this feeling…my heart completely broke when I learned this precious 16-year-old, who accidentally rang the door of the wrong address in an attempt to pick up his siblings, was shot in the head by a man who didn’t want him on his property. This innocent child is now fighting for his life.”

She urged her 918,000 followers to join her and contact the prosecutor and “demand an immediate arrest.”

Vice President Kamala Harris also tweeted about the shooting, stating that she and her husband, Doug, were praying for the young man’s family.

“Let’s be clear: No child should ever live in fear of being shot for ringing the wrong doorbell. Every child deserves to be safe. That’s the America we are fighting for,” Harris tweeted.

Many of the allegations against Lester contend the shooting was racially motivated. The African Methodist Episcopal Church Ministerial Alliance of the Midwest Conference issued a statement saying, “At what point do we admit that the color of fear is always Black?”

“In these moments, we remember that Emmett Till was just a little boy. Trayvon Martin was just a little boy. Tamir Rice was just a little boy.”

The attorney asserts these thoughts reflect the inaccuracies shared publicly about the case— noting his client was simply afraid that a strange man was on his porch.

“If the individual had been of another ethnic type, if he’d been somebody else, I mean if he’s identifying somebody and that person was white, would he not say they were white? He was asked … who this individual was and he said the individual was Black. I don’t think there’s anything beyond that that’s been put out there,” Salmon told reporters this week.

What makes matters worse for his client is having President Joe Biden and his own grandson weigh in on the case.

Klint Ludwig, Lester’s grandson, said last month, “The warning signs were there. I wasn’t shocked when I heard the news. I believe he held – holds – racist tendencies and beliefs,” adding to a narrative that could bias a jury.

In addition to the threats, the octogenarian is facing health challenges that have impacted his physical appearance, which Salmon brought to the court’s attention. Over the last few months, he has undergone heart bypass surgery and lost 40 pounds, Fox 4 KC reports.

He also said because of the misinformation being pumped out, some of the witnesses contacted to testify on behalf of Lester may feel intimidated.

Clay County Prosecutor Zachary Thompson, who is not formally opposing the seal, disagrees with the defense’s reasons to seal the records.

“Justice should not only be done but be shown to be done,” he said.

Thompson also believes there is “a racial component to the case.”

The judge has not decided whether the case will be sealed. Angles says he will issue one before June 1, when the next hearing is scheduled.

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