On Thursday (Aug. 31), a judge in Clay County, Missouri ruled that Andrew Lester will have to stand trial for shooting Ralph Yarl, a Black teenager who rang his doorbell by accident. Taking to the stand to deliver his testimony, the now-17-year-old Yarl revealed the harrowing moments after approaching the 84-year-old’s residence at Northeast 115th Street, a slight difference from the intended location of Northeast 115th Terrace. After the door cracked open, Yarl realized that he was staring down the barrel of a gun. “He holds it up and says, ‘Don’t ever come here again,'” the victim explained in court.
While Lester did not deny firing his weapon, his attorney called the entire situation a “mutual mistake.” “A terrible event occurred,” attorney Steven Salmon said, as reported by FOX 4 News. “It’s not a criminal event, however… He had a split second to make a decision. [He] didn’t need to wait to be attacked by a stranger in the dark.” In addition, Lester’s legal representative invoked Missouri‘s “castle doctrine,” a self-defense statute that allows a person to “use physical force upon another person when and to the extent he or she reasonably believes such force to be necessary to defend himself or herself.”
The county’s prosecution, led by Zachary Thompson, felt otherwise. “Ralph was unarmed. Ralph was unmasked. He wasn’t yanking violently on the door,” he said. “You do not have the right to shoot an unarmed kid through a door two times.”
Thompson also felt that the incident doesn’t fall in the realm of a hate crime. “There’s no legal racial component to the offense of assault in the first degree or armed criminal action,” Thompson said. “My focus remains on what is required by the law.”
Lester’s arraignment is dated for Sept. 20. He previously pleaded not guilty and remains free on a $200,000 bond.
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