A judge ruled Friday that the next court hearing for the alleged shooter in the emotional case of a 14-year-old Lawrence boy’s death will be livestreamed on YouTube, but the courtroom will be closed to the public.
An evidentiary hearing for Derrick Reed, 17, of Lawrence, will continue Monday in regard to Reed’s motion for immunity from prosecution, as well as prosecutor’s motion to try Reed as an adult. Reed is charged with first-degree murder in the March 18, 2023 shooting death of Kamarjay Shaw, 14.
Citing disruptions during the last hearing, Douglas County District Court Judge Sally Pokorny ruled that only media and Reed’s parents, as he is a juvenile, are granted permission to be inside the courtroom Monday.
Pokorny on June 2 heard evidence in Reed’s motion for immunity. Kamarjay was nearly 200 feet away from his alleged shooter when he was shot the afternoon of Saturday, March 18 in the 1300 block of Maple Lane in eastern Lawrence, an investigator testified. Kamarjay died at the hospital shortly thereafter.
According to testimony on June 2, Kamarjay and four teen boys on that Saturday were at the apartment of a teen female friend and her sister, just around the corner from Reed’s home. Another teen girl called one of the boys via Snapchat audio and told him to come outside because Reed wanted to fight him, according to testimony. The group went outside, assuming it was going to be a one-on-one fist fight between Reed and Kamarjay or one of the other boys. The boys testified that they were trying to get Reed to come out to the street to fight, but Reed refused, instead trying to get the other boys to come into the house or backyard, which they refused to do. The boys were heading back to their friend’s apartment when they saw Reed come out of the house with a gun, they testified. There were two gunshots, and Kamarjay was hit. (Read more from the hearing in this article.)
Pokorny ultimately closed the courtroom to the public on June 2 and livestreamed the hearing over YouTube.
Some of Kamarjay’s family members were arguing that they were being treated unfairly because the prosecution’s witnesses, Kamarjay’s friends, had been barred from entering the courtroom, but certain individuals who were present and may have been involved with the shooting incident or aftermath were allowed to stay. Once the judge cleared the courtroom, some brief altercations between the two sides took place outside, and some people were placed in handcuffs.
The court reporter has to take a record of what each person is saying, and that’s difficult or impossible when there is noise in the courtroom, Pokorny said at the time. The full-day hearing started about an hour and a half behind schedule.
During Friday morning’s hearing, Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum and Reed’s defense attorney, Mark Hartman, discussed with Pokorny whether the courtroom should be open for the next hearing in Reed’s case. Neither side seemed to have a strong argument one way or the other, but they discussed case law and balancing the rights of the defendant and the victim’s family with public safety.
Lt. Chris Johnston of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is the administrative lieutenant who oversees multiple units, including court security. He testified Friday that the morning of the June 2 hearing was chaos for law enforcement, and he described the ongoing case as “extremely volatile.”
He testified that the department made one arrest and detained three people, and he said he had overheard threats of violence. The department called in “at least 20” officers for backup, including all DGSO deputies who were on patrol that day, plus Lawrence and Eudora police officers, Johnston testified.
“We were essentially mobbed, for lack of a better term,” he said.
Johnston said there were people on both sides who are “very familiar” to law enforcement. He said Kamarjay’s family members and supporters were louder amid the disturbance in the courtroom, but he said he saw Reed’s supporters being more quietly antagonistic, smirking and laughing.
One man who was present for the June 2 hearing, a supporter of Kamarjay’s family, was booked into the Douglas County jail on an unrelated warrant in a domestic battery case. Another man who was detained, a family member of Reed, had an active bench warrant in an unrelated case in which he is charged with battery against law enforcement, but he was not booked into the jail that day.
Reed himself was not present in the courtroom for any of the commotion before the hearing began. Deputies escorted him in after the courtroom was cleared.
Johnston said he was aware of 23 incidents reported to law enforcement between supporters of Reed and supporters of Kamarjay’s family since March 18, including fights and disturbances with weapons.
In making her ruling on Friday, Pokorny said the delays from the commotion and the speed of the process were not her concern — “I want things to go correctly,” she said. Based on how the hearing on June 2 went, she said she could not see a way that Monday’s hearing could proceed safely with an open courtroom.
Pokorny noted, though, that there were more than 90 people watching Friday’s hearing on YouTube. Livestreaming the proceeding allowed far more people to view it than her courtroom could accommodate in person, she said.
Obstruction, interference charges filed
Since the June 2 hearing, prosecutors have filed obstruction charges against five people — one adult, 20-year-old Camdon J. Collins, who is a relative of Reed’s, and four teen girls. Two of the girls are also charged with interference with law enforcement.
Charging documents allege that all five “did unlawfully, knowingly, and feloniously harbor, conceal, or aid” Reed after he had committed a felony “with the intent that (Reed) shall avoid or escape from arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment for such felony.” The charge is a low-level felony.
Lawrence police told media the morning after the shooting that they were seeking Reed in connection, and they believed him to be armed and dangerous. Later the same day, he turned himself in and was transported to the juvenile detention center, where he has remained in custody since.
Collins’ defense attorney said he could not comment on the matter at this time.
In two of the teen girls’ cases, charges of interference with law enforcement also allege that they “did unlawfully and feloniously conceal, destroy, or materially alter evidence, in the case of a felony, with the intent to prevent or hinder the apprehension or prosecution” of Reed.
One of the girls who is also charged with interference was scheduled to testify during the June 2 hearing; however, the judge informed her that she was the subject of an ongoing obstruction investigation and that she had the right to an attorney to represent her for her testimony in Reed’s case. She declined to testify that day, and her father told the judge they would seek counsel.
All arrestees and defendants in criminal cases should be presumed not guilty unless and until they are convicted.
The next hearing in Reed’s case is set to begin at 9 a.m. Monday, July 10. Hartman had begun presenting Reed’s witnesses when the June 2 hearing wrapped up for the day.
Monday’s livestream will be available on the Douglas County District Court YouTube channel, youtube.com/@douglascountykansasdistric6556.