Andrew Lester, 84, who allegedly shot 16-year-old Ralph Yarl after approaching his home accidentally, has plead not guilty to the felony charges of assault in the first degree and armed criminal action.
On Wednesday (April 19), Lester appeared in court for less than 10 minutes, says NBC News. After the plea, he was ordered to relinquish his passport and was told by the judge that he is banned from owning a firearm, plus his mobile phone will be monitored. He also cannot have contact with Yarl.
Just the day prior, he surrendered to local authorities and was in custody at the Clay County Detention Center, according to a statement from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. He was released on $200,000 bail later that day.
Lester claims he opened fire in self-defense, assuming Yarl posed a threat. The teenager has since been released from the hospital, after sustaining two gunshot wounds and is expected to recover. Unfortunately, Yarl has suffered permanent physical injuries from a cracked skull, loss of brain tissue and scarring.
According to BBC, Lester has moved out of his home since the shooting because it’s been a “target of vandalism.”
NBC News added that Lee Merritt, an attorney representing the Yarl family alongside Ben Crump, stated, “We’re frustrated with law enforcement and their failure to take responsibility for the denial of this family’s due process. No one has owned up to it. This 16-year-old unarmed boy didn’t actually pose a threat. But far too often in America, his skin alone is his weapon.”
No date was set for a preliminary hearing. However, if Lester is found guilty, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison on the assault charge and three to 15 years on the weapon charge.