(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) — Andrew Lester, the Missouri man who is charged in the shooting of teenager Ralph Yarl, is set to appear in a Kansas City courtroom on Thursday morning for a preliminary hearing after the judge ordered the evidence in this case to be partially sealed.
Yarl, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after the shooting, is expected to testify in the case during a hearing on Friday, his family confirmed to ABC News.
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 the wrong address — 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.
He pleaded not guilty and was released on April 18 on a $200,000 bond.
The 17-year-old teenager opened up about his healing journey as he prepared to begin his senior year of high school in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Good Morning America that aired on Aug. 20.
“Whenever I just think of the details. I was crying about it. Because it just seems so surreal that people would be so harmful and hateful,” he said.
He added that therapy has been helping him cope with the traumatic experience.
Clay County Judge Louis Angles agreed on June 1 to partially seal the evidence in the case in response to a protective order filed by Lester’s attorney, Steven Salmon — a decision that was criticized by Yarl’s family.
According to ABC affiliate in Kansas City, KMBC-TV, Salmon argued that Lester has been suffering from health issues and has received death threats because of the attention the case has gotten across the country and the speculation the shooting was racially motivated.
The judge ruled the discovery in the case will be available to prosecutors and the defense, but will not be shared with the public, writing in the ruling obtained by ABC News, that the “wide-ranging publicity” of the case in the national media has cast Lester “in a negative light” and has continued to “erode [his] ability [to] empanel a fair and impartial venire in his future jury trial.”
“Such conjecture of a racial motive in the reporting of this case negatively affects Defendant’s fundamental right to a fair trial on the merits,” the judge added in the ruling.
ABC News reached out to Salmon ahead of the preliminary hearing for further comment.
He previously told ABC News in June that “any statement from Mr. Lester would certainly violate” the court order to partially seal the evidence and added that “Lester is looking forward to the upcoming preliminary hearing.”
Yarl’s aunt Faith Spoonmore told ABC News in May that the family opposes the motion to partially seal the evidence.
“He was only 16 years old when this happened. What type of message does this send to the people who think this behavior is ok? It’s just sad that the justice system is protecting them and not the victim,” she said.
A spokesperson for Clay County prosecuting attorney Zachary Thompson told ABC News on June 1 that the office is “dedicated to following the law and accepts the ruling of the Court.”
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.
According to the probable cause statement, Yarl told police that he rang the doorbell and said that he didn’t pull on the door knob.
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.'”
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