KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Clay County judge partially sealed the criminal case against a Northland man accused of shooting a Black teenager.
The judge granted the motion filed by the attorney representing 84-year-old Andrew Lester earlier this month.
According to the court order, the judge ordered only prosecutors and the defense should have access to the discovery answers and discovery documents in the case.
The threats and harassment demonstrate Defendant’s life and physical safety are in jeopardy.Court Order
Lester is accused of shooting and injuring 16-year-old Ralph Yarl on April 13 in a Northland Kansas City neighborhood. Investigators said the teenager confused Lester’s address with a home about a block away where he was supposed to pick up his younger brothers.
In Tuesday’s order, the judge stated media coverage of the case decreased Lester’s ability to receive a fail trial. That includes a story on Inside Edition about claims that Lester abused his ex-wife even though the two have been divorced for more than 50 years.
The high-profile case also grabbed the attention of Hollywood stars and political leaders, which also increased interest in the case.
Lester’s attorney argued that statements about “getting justice” in the shooting made by Gwyneth Paltrow, Halle Berry, Chrissy Teigen, Kim Kardashian, and Viola Davis speculate that Lester is guilty of a crime before his trial.
Court documents show statements by President Biden, who called for “justice” in the shooting, and Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, who said “If stand your ground really lets somebody just shoot somebody that rings a doorbell, that puts the life of every postal worker, every campaigner, every Amazon delivery person at risk in this country,” may impede Lester’s right to a fair trial.
Since the shooting, Lester has relocated three times because his house has been egged and vandalized. Lester also changed his phone number after someone posted it online. He received numerous threatening and harassing texts from strangers, according to the court order.
The Clay County Prosecutor’s office released a statement:
“Our office is dedicated to following the law and accepts the ruling of the Court. We can assure the public that our office will continue to be as transparent as legally permitted throughout this process. Our focus remains squarely on achieving justice in this case.”