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An 84-year-old white homeowner will stand trial for shooting Ralph Yarl, a Black teen, through the door after he mistakenly went to the wrong house, a Missouri judge ruled on Thursday.
On April 13, 17-year-old Ralph Yarl mistakenly knocked on the door of 84-year-old Andrew Lester while trying to pick up his younger siblings. Instead of greeting Yarl and telling him he had the wrong house, Lester shot the teen at point-blank range through the door.
Miraculously, Yarl survived being shot in the head with only minimal bullet fragments reaching his brain, according to his family. Meanwhile, Lester faces felony charges of first-degree assault and armed criminal action. He has pleaded not guilty and claimed self-defense because he “feared for his life.”
On Thursday, it appeared Clay County Judge Louis Angles wasn’t buying it. His decision to move forward with a trial came after hearing from witnesses and Yarl.
Andrew Lester could face 30 years for shooting Ralph Yarl through door
After shooting Yarl, the teen was miraculously able to get up. As he ran away, Lester yelled at him, “Don’t come around here,” prosecutors say.
With a trail of blood behind him, Yarl desperately sought help from neighbors. Only after he fell to the ground did a few neighbors come out to help him. Jodi Dovel, a neighbor who helped Yarl, testified that despite blood pouring from his head he was able to speak and tell her a man shot him after he rang a doorbell.
“I thought, ‘Oh no, he went to the wrong house,’” Dovel said, the Associated Press reported.
Lester has pleaded not guilty. Yet some members of his own family have questioned his innocence. Klint Ludwig, a grandson of Lester, told CNN he wasn’t surprised when he heard about the shooting.
“The warning signs were there. I wasn’t shocked when I heard the news,” Ludwig told CNN on Thursday. “I believe he held – holds – racist tendencies and beliefs.”
If convicted, Lester faces up to 30 years in prison.
Meanwhile, Yarl has continued to improve while dealing with a traumatic brain injury. He was able to walk just months after being shot in the head and even met with President Biden.
A GoFundMe started for Yarl by his aunt has raised over $3.5 million for the high schooler from over 86,000 donors across the world. Yarl plans to major in engineering when he graduates high school.