Post last updated at 6:10 p.m. Monday, July 10:
Douglas County District Court Judge Sally Pokorny ruled Monday that a 17-year-old accused of shooting and killing a 14-year-old Lawrence boy will be tried as an adult.
Derrick Reed, also of Lawrence, is charged with first-degree murder in the March 18, 2023 shooting death of Kamarjay Shaw.
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 said the evidence did not show that Reed fired a gun because he was in imminent danger. She said that her denial of the motion for immunity from prosecution did not mean that Reed would not be able to present a self-defense claim if the case proceeds to trial, however.
Pokorny first ruled Monday that Reed would not be immune from prosecution for the shooting.
Kamarjay and his friends had been running away from the home, Pokorny said. Even if Reed had believed he was imminently threatened with harm when the boys were at the end of the home’s driveway, before they ran away, a reasonable person would have called 911 at that point, Pokorny said. Kamarjay was nearly two-thirds of a football field — about 191 feet — away from Reed when he was hit, according to earlier testimony.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum pointed out in her arguments that after the shooting, a detective had testified, Reed left the home, and two vehicles sped from the scene in the same direction that the boys had been running. The teens had also dumped the firearm. She said neither of those actions were consistent with someone who had just acted to protect their own life.
Reed’s defense attorney, Mark Hartman, had argued that the state had not showed probable cause that the shooting was not in self-defense.
Hartman called two other teen girls to testify, but both have been charged with obstruction in connection with the shooting, and both invoked their Fifth Amendment privilege not to incriminate themselves. Pokorny did not order them to testify.
Hartman told the judge the girls had told police that they believed that one or two of Kamarjay’s friends had been armed with firearms by the way they were gesturing toward their waistbands; however, the lead investigator on the case testified that to her knowledge, law enforcement had recovered only one firearm in connection with the incident.
Motion to prosecute as an adult
The judge also determined Monday that the state would be allowed to prosecute Reed as an adult. He will turn 18 on July 21.
Robin Rooks, juvenile supervision officer supervisor at the Douglas County Juvenile Detention Center, testified Monday that the longest Reed could be held in custody, if he is adjudicated and sentenced as a juvenile, would be approximately 4 1/2 years. She said a person sentenced as a juvenile can be held in custody until they are 22 1/2 years old, followed by a six-month probation period until they turn 23, or if they are sentenced only to probation, they could be monitored until they are 21.
The other option without charging someone as an adult would be to charge them as a juvenile with an underlying adult charge, Rooks said. They would have to complete their juvenile summons without violation in order to avoid the adult sentencing.
Leigh Housman, assistant director of Douglas County Youth Services, said Reed had shown good behavior and was doing well over the months he’s been in custody.
Hartman asked Housman whether in her 26 years in her position, prosecutors had not sought to try any juvenile charged with murder as an adult. She said no.
Monday afternoon, Hartman called Matthew Fowler, a psychologist who specializes in evaluations for juveniles involved in the juvenile justice system. Fowler testified that Reed does not have any diagnosable mental issues, but he struggled some with poor verbal abilities, lack of impulse control and slower speed of mental processing. Fowler said he believed Reed has the capacity for rehabilitation.
Hartman argued that the court should act as a check on the state’s impulse to charge kids as adults.
In ruling on the state’s motion, Pokorny said she believes everyone has the capacity of rehabilitation and that was not a large factor in her decision. She said she was concerned that Reed might not be rehabilitated within the 4 1/2 years the juvenile justice system would allow.
Pokorny said that Kamarjay and his friends were retreating and running away when Kamarjay was shot “shows this was an aggressive, violent and willful conduct on the part of the juvenile.”
By the end of the day Monday, prosecutors had already refiled the case in adult criminal court. According to the new charging document, if convicted, Reed could face up to life in prison with a mandatory minimum of 50 years served before he could become parole-eligible. All arrestees and defendants in criminal cases should be presumed not guilty unless and until they are convicted.
Reed’s mother cried as the judge made her ruling. His parents were allowed to be there because he is a minor. Kamarjay’s parents could not be in the courtroom because it was closed to the public and the hearing was livestreamed over YouTube.
Reed’s next hearing is a bond hearing set for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 18. A preliminary hearing is set for all day Monday, Aug. 14.
Read more about the case in the articles below.