Andrew Lester, the man who shot 16-year-old Ralph Yarl in the head and then in the arm after the teen went to the wrong house to pick up his brothers, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of first-degree assault and armed criminal action, for which he could serve up to life in prison if convicted. According to the Associated Press, Lester “walked into the courtroom with a cane and spoke quietly during Wednesday’s hearing,” which likely means we can look forward to a trial in which the 84-year-old’s attorney, Steve Salmon, works around the clock to make his client look more like the old white man from Up and less like the old white men from Rosewood.
For many people, especially Black people, it will be frustrating to watch a white man be humanized after shooting a child in the head and then in the arm without a single word being exchanged between the shooter and the victim. Lester reportedly shot Ralph and yelled, “Don’t come around here” to Ralph as he ran away after taking a bullet to the head, then Lester told the police he was “scared to death” because he thought someone who rang the doorbell was trying to break in. It will also be frustrating to even hear arguments that Lester acted in self-defense and is protected under Missouri’s “Stand Your Ground” law, the same law that freed George Zimmerman after he killed Trayvon Martin.
Attorney Lee Merritt, one of the lawyers representing Ralph and his family, said in a statement that the law applies only if “someone’s on your property and they’re looking to do you harm,” and that “we don’t have any evidence of that.”
“The Castle Doctrine does not apply to this case,” he added.
Meanwhile, Lester is a free man again after posting 10 percent of his $200,000 bond and agreeing to turn over any weapons he owns, have zero contact with Yarl or his family and have his cellphone monitored. Merritt said Ralph’s family, who weren’t present during Lester’s arraignment due to the emotional toll this case has already taken on them, are unhappy about Lester being out on bond and the fact that his next court date isn’t until June.
“We want this process to go as quickly as possible,” Merritt said. “And we know that if a defendant is out on bond, they may feel free to push the date down a little further as opposed to if he was in custody.”
One thing that will make this case interesting is also the one thing to be grateful for—Ralph Yarl survived his attack and is now home recovering. In so many of these cases—such as Trayvon’s, Ahmaud Arbery’s, Tamir Rice’s, Breonna Taylor’s, George Floyd’s, Michael Brown’s and countless others—the victim isn’t alive to tell their side of the story, which gives defense attorneys and police/vigilante advocates the greenlight to attack their characters. In Ralph’s case, besmirching a beloved honor student with no criminal history who is alive and well enough to defend himself will surely be a no-go.
Merritt said Yarl is “completely humbled” by the outpouring of support.
“He says, ’I don’t know why everyone’s making a big deal out of me,’” Merritt said. “You know, it’s it’s just me, right? It’s not like the president was shot.”
But Eliana Brannlund said it has been rough not having her friend and fellow band member around at Staley High School.
“He always brought a lot of positivity and smiles to our band class as well as our rehearsals outside of school,” Brannlund said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I hope people are able to hear about who Ralph is as a person and understand that he is loving, kind and sweet.”
Of course, it’s worth noting that even if Ralph wasn’t so “sweet,” and he wasn’t an honor student, and he had been in trouble with the law before, he still wouldn’t deserve to be shot and nearly killed just for going to the wrong house. And “I was in fear for my life” shouldn’t continue to be a get-out-of-jail-free phrase for white people who shoot Black people for no practical reason.
Andrew Lester Released On Bond After Pleading Not Guilty To 1st Degree Assault In Shooting Of Ralph Yarl was originally published on newsone.com
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