An 84-year-old white man accused of shooting and killing a black teenager has pleaded not guilty in a US court.
Andrew Lester allegedly shot and killed Ralph Yar after he mistakenly walked to the man’s home on 115th Street in Kansas City.
The 16-year-old was trying to pick up his younger siblings, They were at a property called 115th Terrace a street away.
Prosecutors allege Lester fired a .32-caliber revolver twice through the glass door last Thursday — hitting Ralph in the head and arm.
Ralph then had to go to multiple families for help before eventually finding someone who would call 911.
As the teen was being treated in hospital, he told police the man had said: “Don’t come over.”
Leicester surrendered on Tuesday — and agreed to give up his weapons, avoid contacting Ralph and his family, and have his cell phone monitored.
His swift release on $200,000 (£160,000) bail sparked protests.
The pensioner was charged with first-degree assault, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted.
He also pleaded not guilty to armed criminal conduct, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
In his first court appearance, Lester walked to the bench on crutches and spoke briefly with the judge.
Prosecutor Zachary Thompson said there was a “racial component” to the case, but no hate crime charges have been filed.
Civil rights leaders have been calling for the case to be treated as a hate crime – but according to Mr Thompson, Missouri law means it will carry a lighter sentence.
Ralph is now recovering at home – and his family say it’s a miracle he survived being shot in the head at point range.
A GoFundMe page set up for his care has received $3.2m (£2.6m) from more than 87,000 donors.
At a rally, his attorney Lee Merritt said: “A bullet from [Lester’s] The gun entered less than five feet into his upper temple, penetrated his skull, and they scraped bullet fragments from his frontal lobe on Thursday. On Saturdays, he plays with his dog at home. “
Lester told police he lived alone and was “terrified to death” when he saw a black man standing on his porch — which he thought someone was trying to break into.
But given Ralph’s 5-foot-8 height, Mr. Merritt didn’t think he was an imposing figure.
Experts believe Leicester’s attorneys will seek self-defense under the state’s “stand your ground” law, which allows for the use of deadly force when someone fears for their life.
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President Joe Biden spoke with the teen and his family, tweeting: “No parent should have to worry about their child being shot after ringing the wrong doorbell. We must continue to fight gun violence.”
In recent days, there have been several shootings involving victims who strayed into the wrong location.
In Texas, a man shot and wounded two cheerleaders after one of them got into his car — which he thought was hers.
In New York, a 20-year-old woman was killed Saturday night after she was shot in the driveway of a car that was mistakenly heading to the wrong address.