A 14-year-old boy was nearly 200 feet away from his alleged shooter, a judge heard Friday, though the defendant charged with his murder is claiming self-defense.
Derrick Reed, 17, of Lawrence, is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 14-year-old Kamarjay Shaw. Shaw was shot on March 18 in the 1300 block of Maple Lane in eastern Lawrence, and he died at the hospital shortly thereafter.
Reed’s defense attorney, Mark Hartman, filed a motion for immunity from prosecution, claiming the shooting was in self-defense. Meanwhile, prosecutors have filed a motion to try Reed as an adult, which would make him subject to more severe penalties if convicted.
Douglas County District Court Judge Sally Pokorny heard part of the evidence in support of the motion for immunity on Friday. The hearing will resume on July 10.
Pokorny told one witness, a teen girl whom Hartman had called to testify as part of the defense case, that there was a pending investigation into possible obstruction of justice and that she could potentially face charges based on what she said on the witness stand. The girl’s father, a Lawrence police officer, said they will look to hire an attorney before she testifies.
Details of the shooting have been vague. Law enforcement released very little information at the time, but Friday’s proceedings shed some light on the circumstances.
All arrestees and defendants in criminal cases should be presumed not guilty unless and until they are convicted.
Prosecutors Jennifer Tatum and Ricardo Leal called a neighbor, three of Kamarjay’s friends and a Lawrence police detective to testify.
According to testimony, Kamarjay and four other teenage boys were at the apartment of a teenage female friend and her sister just around the corner from Reed’s home that Saturday afternoon.
Another teen girl called one of the boys via Snapchat and told him to come outside because “Derrick wants to fight you,” one of the witnesses said.
Two witnesses testified that some of the boys, but not Kamarjay, had picked up some metal poles or pipes that were on the ground at the apartment complex. They were expecting a one-on-one fist fight between Reed and Kamarjay or one of the other boys, but some of them grabbed the poles in case Reed’s group had weapons and “to make sure my lil cousin didn’t get jumped,” one said. Kamarjay’s friends said no one in their group had any firearms or other weapons.
A neighbor had heard commotion outside and recorded Ring camera footage of the altercation. The footage showed a span of about two minutes. There was no audio.
Kamarjay and a group of four boys can be seen walking south on Maple Lane, the two girls some distance behind them. The boys linger in the street and in front of the driveway of Reed’s home for a minute or so, the video shows.
The boys testified that there was yelling back and forth, and Reed had told them to come around to the back yard. They didn’t set foot on Reed’s property, though, because then “it would’ve been forreal self-defense,” one said, and “we’re not stupid,” the other said. They said they could see that there were other people in the house, but they couldn’t tell who they were.
One of the boys threw a pipe on the ground, and it bounced. It wasn’t clear from testimony or the video whether the pipe had hit Reed’s vehicle.
The boys started heading back north on Maple Lane, and they ran once they heard gunshots, two of them testified. One said he saw Reed raise up the gun, aiming in the group’s direction.
Lawrence police Detective Kimberlee Nicholson said the department had collected camera footage from another neighbor’s home. This footage showed a smaller portion of the street, but it had audio. Nicholson was able to line up the two camera angles to determine where those visible on camera were when the gunshots were fired. Neither of those cameras showed the shooter.
The red pin on the map below shows the approximate location Kamarjay was when he was shot.
Nicholson testified that she had measured the distance, and it was about 190 feet away from Reed’s home at 1318 Maple Lane. Based on the video footage, the closest boy to Reed’s property when the two gunshots rang out was about 90 feet away, Nicholson said.
Within about 10 seconds of the gunshots, two vehicles can be seen rapidly accelerating and heading north on Maple Lane. One boy testified that he knew one of the drivers was Reed. The other vehicle was that of the teenage girl who had summoned the boys outside, according to testimony.
The boys testified that they ran back up to their friends’ apartment.
They didn’t fully realize Kamarjay had been shot until he was on the couch, bleeding. One teen said they tried to call Kamarjay’s mom because he was calling out for her.
Kamarjay was starting to lose consciousness, so one of them had tried splashing some water in his face to keep him awake, the boys testified. They called an ambulance, but Kamarjay died at the hospital.
One teen said law enforcement came and searched the apartment and didn’t let them back in the rest of the day. Some but not all of them were taken to the police station to be interviewed that night.
Nicholson, lead investigator on the case, said that to her knowledge, police had only recovered one firearm in connection with the shooting.
Hartman had reached out to Nicholson to let her know where the gun was stashed, under some leaves by a bush near East 12th Street and Laura Avenue.
If local journalism like this matters to you, please support The Lawrence Times.
Click here to subscribe.
Hartman called two witnesses in addition to the teen girl who is going to seek an attorney before she testifies next month.
One witness, another neighbor, said she had heard the commotion, looked outside and saw a teen who was not Reed holding a firearm, about 3 feet from Reed’s door. She called 911, and she said the phone was ringing when she heard the gunshots fired.
Another witness had called police earlier in the day March 18 because he said he saw two groups of teens in the area of 27th and Iowa streets, and one of the teens in Kamarjay’s group was holding a machete.
Kamarjay’s friends had testified that they had eaten at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and were waiting to take the bus downtown when Reed and a few others had approached them. One of the boys said they did have a machete; the other said they didn’t, and that when police searched them, they didn’t find a machete.
The man who had called police said he had seen a verbal altercation between the groups, but he couldn’t hear what was said. He said the boy didn’t raise the machete, but he was walking around with it in his hand like he wanted it to be seen.
He said he called police because it was not a normal activity to be carrying around a machete, and he probably would’ve called whether he’d seen an altercation or not.
Reed’s group had left by the time police arrived, according to testimony. No officers testified about that incident.
The hearing will continue at 9 a.m. Monday, July 10.
Before the hearing began Friday morning, Kamarjay’s father, LaTouche Shaw, and other family and friends of Kamarjay inside the packed courtroom were vocal about what they believed to be unfair treatment of witnesses. They demanded that certain individuals who were present, and may have been involved with the shooting incident, be removed from the courtroom — the prosecution’s witnesses, Kamarjay’s friends, had been barred from entering.
The commotion, still unsettled after nearly an hour, led to the judge deciding to dismiss all members of the public from the courtroom and instead livestream the hearing for them to watch on YouTube.
“We have a child who’s dead. We have a child in custody,” Pokorny said, acknowledging the highly emotional nature of the case. “… All parties here have an interest in justice, but we cannot proceed with a hearing when there’s any kind of noise in this courtroom.”
Some brief altercations between the two sides took place, and some people were placed in handcuffs. One person was booked into the Douglas County jail on an unrelated warrant. Extra law enforcement officers were called to the courthouse to keep the peace. There were at least a dozen officers outside.
As supporters of Kamarjay lingered outside the courthouse, emotions were high.
“As soon as the (hearing) started, it was unjust,” Shaw said. “It was unfair at the beginning. As soon as we walked in the door, they told all of our witnesses to get out of the courtroom. We walk in, we see the people that are literally involved in the case in the courtroom. So they want us to just be docile and say, ‘Hey, that don’t matter.’ It does matter, and until we get that addressed, we’re not finna go through with no hearing.”
Shaw cited racial injustice and stressed that he wouldn’t be silenced.
“I’m never gonna let you put the banana in the tailpipe and sweep it under the rug – things that are blatantly unjust,” Shaw said. “We’re going to keep fighting. All we can do is fight for the right thing, and until the right thing happens, we ain’t gonna stop fighting.”
Family, friends and community members had also gathered in downtown Lawrence on Thursday — the day before the hearing — to demand justice through a thorough investigation of Kamarjay’s death. “Long live KJ. Justice for KJ,” supporters on Thursday yelled out. Supporters also protested Friday morning ahead of the hearing.
“They woke up a sleeping giant today,” Shaw said during Thursday’s protest. “The most feared thing in America is a Black man that’s willing to step up for his community and his family.”