Evidence found in the criminal case against Andrew Lester will stay out of the public eye. Earlier this week, a Missouri judge granted Lester’s motion to seal the case partially. Lester has reportedly received threats and harassment since shooting Ralph Yarl, a Black teenager, in April.
Lester’s attorneys filed the protective order at the top of May. They claimed that the ongoing media spotlight on the case poses safety and fair hearing concerns. The Clay County judge agreed on Wednesday (May 31), per ABC News. The evidence will be kept from the public but provided to the prosecutors and the defense.
“This court finds the evidence adducted, and supporting exhibits admitted into evidence, not only compels closure but also for good cause requires it,” the judge wrote, per CNN. “The threats and harassment demonstrate Defendant’s life and physical safety are in jeopardy.”
RELATED: Andrew Lester, 84, Pleads Not Guilty To Shooting 16-Year-Old Ralph Yarl
In their initial filing, Lester’s attorneys expressed concern about the integrity of the trial, including creating bias among potential jurors and flaky witnesses. His house, seen in the image above, has been routinely vandalized with spray paint and eggs, KMBC 9 reports.
The publicity of the case and subsequent harassment has also forced Lester’s wife to relocate from her nursing home, per Lester’s attorneys. As for Andrew, his lawyers also claim the 84-year-old requires police assistance for any travel.
JUSTICE SERVED? 84-year-old Andrew Lester has been charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action for shooting 16-year-old Ralph Yarl. According to reports, Yarl mistakenly went to Lester’s house while trying to pick up his siblings & was shot twice. pic.twitter.com/Uth8QwYF8L
— TheShadeRoom (@TheShadeRoom) April 18, 2023
Teen Shooting Victim’s Aunt Slams Judge For Sealing Evidence To Protect Alleged Gunman
Meanwhile, Yarl’s aunt, Dr. Faith Spoonmore, told KMBC 9 Lester is “evil” and “trying to find a way out.”
“I see old? I see fragile? I help old. I help fragile. That’s evil. That’s evil. That’s trying to find a way out,” Spoonmore said. “And no, you’re not getting sympathy. Not from anyone. You don’t deserve sympathy. We don’t give you a pass because of your age. No, because he was fine enough after shooting my nephew to be one of the first calls that went to 911.”
JUST IN: Andrew Lester has pleaded not guilty in the shooting of Ralph Yarl, who mistakenly knocked on Lester’s door while trying to pick up his young brothers: @fox5dc https://t.co/hp42qGm7cl pic.twitter.com/3HNGNlHOL9
— Shomari Stone (@shomaristone) June 1, 2023
Lester reportedly shot Yarl after the teen went to the wrong house to pick up his 11-year-old twin siblings. Court documents claim that Lester shot the then-16-year-old through a glass door. The boy, now 17, was shot once in the head and once in the arm.
Yarl continues to recover from his injuries at home, his family says. But, the teen’s aunt, Dr. Spoonmore, added that he’s suffering debilitating physical pain, not to mention the emotional trauma he’s endured.
“He’s only 17 years old. He has his entire life that he’s going to have to fight, that he’s going to have to struggle, to deal with everything that happened as a teenager,” Spoonmore said.
In light of this decision, we are asking that the prosecutor remains vigilant in gaining full justice for Ralph — who is working hard to regain some level of normalcy.
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) June 1, 2023
Lester pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree assault and armed criminal action shortly after his arrest, The Shade Room reported. AP reports that he has since been released after paying 10 percent of his $200,000 bond.
According to a Thursday judicial decision, Lester’s preliminary hearing dates are scheduled for August 31 and September 1, per ABC News.