Ex-wife of Missouri man accused of shooting Yarl says he was violent (2023)

The ex-wife of a Missouri man - who appeared in court on Wednesday charged with shooting a 16-year-old boy in the head when he knocked on his door - has said her former husband was a deeply violent man.

Mary Clayton, 81, was married to Andrew Lester, 84, for 14 years and the pair had three children together.

They divorced many years ago and she moved to California: when Lester's face appeared on the news in reports about last week's incident, Clayton did not initially recognize him.

But she said his alleged crime did not shock her.

'I was always scared of him,' she told The New York Times.

'It doesn't surprise me, what happened.'

Andrew Lester, 84, pleaded not guilty at a first appearance at Clay County Courthouse on Wednesday

He is charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action, with his next appearance set for June 1

Clayton said that, during their marriage, he would frequently become violently angry.

He would fly into a rage, and smash objects in their house.

When she reported him to the police, she said, the officers told her that it was his house and he could do as he wished.

She said she did not know about his alleged crime until her daughter rang her and told her.

Lester on Wednesday appeared in court and entered a not guilty plea during a three-minute appearance at Clay County Courthouse.

He is charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action, and his next appearance is set for June 1.

Lawyers for Ralph Yarl, 16, said outside court that the Department of Justice is investigating the shooting as a hate crime. His family did not attend the hearing.

Civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing the teenager, told reporters: 'We thought that this was something the DOJ should be looking into.

'They are (looking into it). It's under investigation, they've received our complaint and are now looking into it.

'I want him to spend the rest of his life in prison. All of his assets are going to become Ralph's.'

During the hearing Judge Louis Angels added several conditions to Lester's bond, banning him from contacting Ralph or his family or from leaving the state of Missouri without permission.

He was also forced to surrender his passport and concealed carry permit, as well as being banned from possessing any weapons.

Meanwhile, Merritt posted a picture of Ralph looking relaxed and smiling as he was seen for the first time since being released from hospital.

Merritt posted the picture on his Twitter, saying: 'Ralph Yarl is home and recovering!

'How the bullet in his head didn't cause more extensive damage is truly a miracle. To God be the glory!'

Ralph approached a property in Kansas City, Missouri, thinking he was collecting his two younger brothers but was shot and rushed to hospital in critical condition.

Lawyers for Ralph, 16, said outside of court that the Department of Justice is investigating the shooting as a hate crime. His family did not attend the hearing

Lester is facing life in jail after being charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action in relation to the shooting which saw Ralph Yarl rushed to hospital

During the hearing Judge Angles added several conditions to Lester's bond, banning him from owning a weapon

Pictured: The home of Andrew Lester, the 84-year-old white homeowner accused of shooting Black teen Ralph Yarl in Kansas City, Missouri

Andrew Lester, 84, told Kansas City Police Department that shooting Ralph Yarl, 16, was the 'last thing he wanted to do' but was terrified of the teenager because of his size and age

Lester handed himself in on Tuesday after Clay County Prosecutor's Office confirmed that he would be charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action – which could see him face the rest of his life behind bars.

He was released from Clay County Detention Center after paying 10 percent of the $200,000 bail.

His grandson said the shooting should 'never have happened' and explained that mistaking the properties is 'easy to do' because they all look the same.

Daniel Ludwig said: 'I'd go to visit my grandpa, and I would get lost on those streets. It's just crazy. I wish it didn't happen.'

His comments come as the GoFundMe page for gifted scholar Yarl, 16, surges past $3.2million.

Lester shot twice within seconds of opening the door, according to his statement, and claims that no words were exchanged

On Thursday night, Yarl was shot twice through the door of Lester's home, which is just a block away from the property where his younger twin brothers were waiting to be picked up.

The suspect was first arrested and released hours after the shooting on April 14, when he told police that he was 'scared to death' after seeing Yarl standing at his front door.

Zachary Thompson, Clay County prosecutor said: 'As the prosecutor for Clay County, I can tell you that there was a racial component to the case… I don't want to comment on specifics of the case to protect its integrity.'

Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves also acknowledged the 'racial components' at play in the case.

Lester shot twice within seconds of opening the door, according to his statement, and claims that no words were exchanged

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said that Yarl was 'shot because he was existing while black'.

He told CNN that he 'shared the outrage' of residents in Kansas City over the lack of action.

Lucas said: 'To pretend that race is not a part of this whole situation would be to have your head in the sand.

The 16-year-old looked relaxed and smiled with his lawyer Lee Merritt on Wednesday, ahead of Andrew Lester, 84, appearing in court for the first time

The house in Kansas City, Missouri had a 'no solicitors' sign on top of the doorbell which Ralph mistakenly rang

President Joe Biden rang the Yarl family on Monday, and invited them to the White House when the teenager is well enough

'This boy was shot because he was existing while black. And he knocked on the door of someone who clearly, clearly fears black people.

'Black boys, black children, and I think that is clear as day and so I hope that is not mistaken or forgotten the reason why many black people and black parents - myself included - are concerned is because if one day it's ringing on the doorbell, they can get you shot. Then what else is next?'

He added: 'This is normal existence in life, and somebody came to a door and shot through a door. Not once but twice. That's what is horrifying.

'That's why I think I'm glad to see this first step towards justice and why we all need to investigate how we handle this and how we can do better in the future.'

Ralph Yarl, 16, was shot twice in the head by a white man after he approached the wrong house by mistake when going to collect his siblings

Yarl, center, was said to be trying to pick up his younger siblings from a friend's house but went to the wrong address

In a probable cause affidavit, Lester told KCPD that shooting Yarl was the 'last thing he wanted to do' but was terrified of the teenager because of his size and age.

The document also revealed that cops discovered a Smith and Wesson .32 caliber revolver with two spent shell casings still in the cylinder after officers arrived at the scene.

Police say Yarl was shot after he knocked on the door, with Lester telling officers he saw him 'pulling on the door handle' – something which the teenager denies.

Yarl also told authorities that Lester told him 'don't come around here' after being shot in the head and the arm through the glass at the front of the house.

Lester shot twice within seconds of opening the door, according to his statement, and claims that no words were exchanged.

The document revealed that he was shot in the left forehead, and right arm, with a neighbor telling cops they thought it was 'odd' for their 'elderly neighbor to have a visitor this late at night'.

A witness added that they heard 'two or three gunshots' from Lester's home, and heard Yarl screaming that he had been shot.

Lester told officers that he felt he was 'protecting himself' at the property where he says he lives alone.

He also claimed that he called 911 after the shooting, claiming that Yarl 'ran away' after the incident.

Yarl was shot in the head and the arm on April 13 after mistakenly ringing the doorbell at the Missouri property where he thought he was meant to pick up his younger twin brothers

The statement shows that he was 'visibly upset' and 'repeatedly expressed concern' for Yarl during the interview.

He said he 'believed he was protecting himself from a physical confrontation and could not take the chance of the male coming in'.

Yarl told officers that he pressed the doorbell and waited outside of the door, adding that the man inside 'took a long time but finally opened the door holding a firearm'.

Officers took a hard drive from Lester's home to preserve video, but the video system was 'no longer functional'.

Lester's home had signs warning trespassers and unwelcomed visitors, though it is unclear if Yarl saw any of them before approaching the property.

The doorbell had a small 'no solicitors' sign on top while another sign claimed the property was 'protected by surveillance cameras'.

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