KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — An attorney for the elderly white man charged with shooting a Black teenager in the Northland (an area on the north side of Kansas City, Missouri) asked a judge to seal the case before trial.
Andrew Lester’s attorney filed the motion on May 1.
According to the motion, people have egged and vandalized Lester’s home following the shooting of 16-year-old Ralph Yarl.
Lester’s attorney told the court his client is living elsewhere because of threats, harassment, and protests that have been held outside his Northland home.
The motion also mentions Lester’s wife moved out of a nursing home because of harassment.
Lester’s attorney claims the case should be sealed because of the significant amount of coverage the case is getting. It goes on to say Lester will not be able to get a fair trial if the judge does not stop the amount of information the public hears about the case.
Lester pleaded not guilty to first-degree assault, which carries a sentence of up to life in prison.
Prosecutors say he shot Yarl in the head, then in the arm, after the teenager mistakenly went to Lester’s home to pick up his younger brothers on April 13.
Lester told police he lives alone and was “scared to death” when he saw Yarl on the porch because he thought someone was trying to break in, according to court documents.
As Yarl got up to run after the shooting, he said heard Lester yell, “Don’t come around here,” court documents said.
Yarl went to multiple homes seeking help before finding someone called the police, according to court documents.
Some civil rights leaders and Yarl’s family attorney, Lee Merritt, have urged the Department of Justice to investigate the shooting and for prosecutors to charge Lester with a hate crime, with Yarl’s attorney Lee Merritt noting that Yarl “was armed only with his Black skin.”
Lester is scheduled to be in court again on June 1.