The defense attorney for a teen accused of shooting and killing a 14-year-old Lawrence boy is asking the court to sequester the jury during a trial set to span about a week and a half in March.
Derrick Reed, 18, is set to be tried for first-degree murder in connection with the death of Kamarjay Shaw, 14. The shooting took place on March 18, 2023 in Lawrence. At the time of the shooting, Reed was 17, but the judge has previously ruled he would be tried as an adult. (Read more background on the case in the articles linked below.)
The case has been highly emotional, and after commotion during the first major hearing, the judge closed the courtroom to the public but streamed the hearing on YouTube to allow public access. After hearing testimony from a court security officer, the judge opted to close the courtroom for subsequent hearings, as well.
Reed’s defense attorney, Mark Hartman, in his motion Friday wrote that “From the earliest stages of this case, this matter has been plagued by safety threats.”
“At one point, the Douglas County Sheriff had armed officers manned atop the courthouse as a means of securing the building,” Hartman’s motion continued. “At numerous times during this case, the Court has implemented special rules to account for the decorum of courtroom proceedings and to ensure the safety of all stakeholders.”
Typically, judges instruct jurors before breaks and at the end of each day of a trial that they are not to read the news or otherwise expose themselves to any information that could taint their opinion of the case. Sequestration would mean jurors would likely stay overnights at a hotel, where they would have no access to news or the internet and limited contact with people and each other, for the duration of the trial.
Chief Judge James McCabria said via email Friday that he has asked the court administrator, but he had never heard of a jury being sequestered in Douglas County District Court.
Hartman cited case law stating that “The decision to sequester a jury lies within the trial court’s power of discretion.”
“The concern here is that if the jury is not sequestered, there exists a legitimate risk that jurors will be subjected to undue influence by outside actors in the course of their jury service,” Hartman wrote. “Rather than taking a ‘wait and see’ approach, Derrick proposes that the Court exercise its discretion to issue an order sequestering the jury, thereby eliminating the risk that would come with not sequestering them.”
The next hearing in Reed’s case is set for Feb. 16. The trial is set to begin Monday, March 4, and continue through Tuesday, March 12.
All defendants in criminal cases should be presumed not guilty unless and until they are convicted.
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