(CNN) — A Missouri judge granted a motion Thursday to seal evidence in the criminal case against Andrew Lester, who allegedly shot and wounded Ralph Yarl, a Black teen, after the 16-year-old went to the wrong home to pick up his siblings.
Attorneys for Lester argued that media attention surrounding the case resulted in threats against their client and that the “ongoing reporting” may hinder his ability to get a fair hearing.
“This court finds the evidence adduced, and supporting exhibits admitted into evidence, not only compels closure, but also for good cause requires it,” the judge wrote. “The threats and harassment demonstrate Defendant’s life and physical safety are in jeopardy.”
Lester pleaded not guilty in April to the charges of assault in the first degree and armed criminal action before being released on $200,000 bond.
Ralph’s family is being represented by Ben Crump, who expressed his disapproval of the judge’s decision.
“Transparency is key here,” Crump said. “Far too many times things that occur in the dark leads to the injustice being proliferated in our communities. And we don’t want that to happen here. The whole world is watching Kansas City to see if there’s going to be accountability and justice for this teenage kid who merely rang the doorbell.”
CNN has reached out to Lester’s attorney for comment.
Ralph went to the wrong address to pick up his younger siblings – 1100 NE 115th Street instead of 1100 NE 115th Terrace. After ringing Lester’s doorbell, Ralph was shot in the head and arm.
The homeowner said he thought Ralph was trying to break into the home and he was “scared to death” due to the boy’s size, according to the probable cause document obtained by CNN. Ralph’s aunt told CNN her nephew is less than 6 feet tall and probably under 170 pounds.
Ralph’s mother, Cleo Nagbe, also said during a media conference Thursday her son is doing “remarkably well physically, and we are facing the daily struggles of getting him to where he needs to be so that he can have the most normal senior year possible. That’s our goal.”
Lester’s preliminary hearing has been set for August 31, CNN affiliate KMBC reported.
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