Andrew Lester pleads not guilty in shooting of Ralph Yarl, trial set for late 2024

ByDeena Zaru ABCNews logo
Wednesday, September 20, 2023
Teen shot after mistakenly going to the wrong house speaks out
The Kansas City teenager opened up about the harrowing experience for the first time in an exclusive interview with GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts.

Andrew Lester, the Kansas City man charged in the shooting of Ralph Yarl after the teenager mistakenly went to the wrong house, pleaded not guilty during his arraignment on Wednesday morning after a judge ruled on Aug. 31 that his case will head to trial.

Lester waived his rights to have the charges read and his trial is expected to begin on Oct. 7, 2024, with a docket call on Dec. 15, according to ABC affiliate in Kansas City, KMBC, who was in the courtroom.

Lester's attorney Steven Salmon confirmed to ABC News on Tuesday that Lester would plead not guilty.

ABC News reached out to Salmon for further comment.

This booking photo provided by the Kansas City Police Department shows Andrew Lester on April 13, 2023.
Kansas City Police Department via AP

Lester - a homeowner in Kansas City, Missouri - shot Yarl in the head and in the right arm on the evening of April 13, according to police, after the teenager mistakenly arrived at Lester's home to pick up his twin siblings.

Lester, 84, was charged with one count of felony assault in the first degree and one count of armed criminal action, also a felony, Clay County prosecuting attorney Zachary Thompson said during a press conference on April 17.

During a preliminary hearing on Aug. 31, Clay County Judge Louis Angles ruled that Lester will stand trial because there was enough probable cause that a felony has been committed.

The ruling came following testimony from 12 witnesses, including Ralph Yarl and his mother Cleo Nagbe.

Yarl, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after the shooting, testified that he is still dealing with the physical and mental impact of the shooting and recounted the moments before he was shot.

He said that he rang the doorbell and waited "an amount of time I considered longer than normal" and eventually the main interior door opened and as he reached for the locked glass storm door, he was shot twice -- the first time in his head and once again when he was on the ground.

He said that he never said anything to Lester, but after the shooting Lester said, "don't come here ever again."

According to a probable cause statement obtained by ABC News, Lester, who is white, told police that he "believed someone was attempting to break into the house" and grabbed a gun before going to the door because he was scared.

"Lester stated he opened the interior door, and saw a Black male approximately 6 feet tall pulling on the exterior storm door handle. He stated he believed someone was attempting to break into the house, and shot twice within a few seconds of opening the door," the statement reads.

Yarl told "GMA" in an interview that aired on June 27 that he was shot through a glass door.

"He points [the gun] at me ... so I kinda, like, brace and I turn my head," Yarl said. "Then it happened. And then I'm on the ground ... and then I fall on the glass. The shattered glass. And then before I know it I'm running away shouting, 'Help me, help me.'"