Jury in trial for teen charged in shooting death of Lawrence boy will not be sequestered; will visit crime scene

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A jury will not be sequestered during the upcoming trial for a Lawrence teen charged with the shooting death of a Lawrence boy, Douglas County District Court Judge Sally Pokorny ruled Friday.

Derrick D. Reed, 18, is set to be tried for first-degree murder in connection with the death of Kamarjay Shaw, 14. Reed’s jury trial is set for this March, nearly one year after the shooting.

During a pretrial hearing on Friday, Pokorny addressed several motions filed by Defense Attorney Mark Hartman and Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum.

One was Hartman’s request to sequester jury members during the trial, meaning they would temporarily live at a hotel and have limited contact with others.

Derrick Reed

He referred to high tensions during Reed’s first substantial court hearing on June 2, when at least 20 officers were called to break up threats of violence outside after Pokorny dismissed people from the courtroom. 

But Pokorny said sequestering jurors has been unheard of in Douglas County over the last 40 years. And she said there haven’t been any similar threats since that June 2 hearing.

Hartman argued that a trial, in comparison to a preliminary hearing, is like “the Super Bowl of the court proceeding.” That gives safety concerns more weight, he said. Tatum said sequestration wouldn’t work for several groups of people, limiting the jury pool.

The case has also been covered extensively in local media, which can present challenges when seeking jurors who haven’t formed an opinion about the case. 

Pokorny said the court will refrain from using jurors’ names during the trial and will assure them that their private information will be kept as confidential as possible, but jurors will not be asked to be fully sequestered.

Pokorny also ruled that the jury will visit the crime scene in the 1300 block of Maple Street during the trial. Hartman and Tatum said they’d work together to iron out the logistics for that trip. 

Kamarjay Shaw and his mother

Hartman also brought up rules on attire inside the courtroom. People attending the trial will not be allowed to wear clothing or bring signage that reflects support of either Reed or Kamarjay. Pokorny said a notice will be posted on her courtroom door, and people will be asked to change or alter their clothing or to leave.

The shooting took place on March 18, 2023 in Lawrence. At the time of the shooting, Reed was 17, but Pokorny has previously ruled he will be tried as an adult and will not be granted immunity from prosecution. (Read more details from witness testimony during that hearing in this article.)

During an Aug. 14 hearing, Hartman called an expert from the KBI to testify about gunshot residue testing. The actual results of the testing were not shared then, but Tatum said during a Sept. 1 hearing that Pokorny had a report that indicated there was gunshot residue on Reed’s hands and the steering wheel of his vehicle.

The trial was previously postponed to the current scheduled date while firearm evidence was under review.

James Taber, KBI forensic scientist, testified Friday about the primer gunshot residue (PGSR) analysis he completed for the state’s case against Reed. Tatum and Hartman asked Taber questions to determine the credibility of PGSR analyses as scientific data, and Pokorny ruled the PGSR testing is admissible as part of trial evidence.

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Additionally, Hartman filed a motion to admit as evidence a photo posted to Instagram that he said shows Kamarjay holding a gun. He also requested to be able to discuss juvenile charges, not convictions, that Kamarjay had.

Tatum said the photo does not relate to the case and that “the existence of this picture is not the kind of evidence Kansas courts allow.” It shows no date or time or where exactly it was posted to, there’s no evidence if Reed was aware of the photo, and the person in the photo can’t be absolutely identified as Kamarjay, she said.

She also argued that discussing charges Kamarjay was not convicted of, and that didn’t involve Reed, could potentially prejudice a jury.

Ultimately, both parties opted to table the motion so that Hartman could review the prosecution’s written rebuttal and file a written response himself. They will reconvene with Pokorny at 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 22 to address the issue. That hearing will take place on Zoom, and Hartman estimated it should last no more than 30 minutes.

The jury trial is scheduled for Monday through Friday, March 4-8, and Monday and Tuesday, March 11-12. Court will begin at 9 a.m. each day, likely in the Division 2 courtroom at the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, 111 E 11th St. in Lawrence.

However, Pokorny is considering holding the first two days of the trial at the Douglas County Fairgrounds to carry out the jury selection process because of concerns about COVID-19 spreading. She said they could work with a panel of 60 potential jurors on Monday and another 60 on Tuesday. 

All arrestees and defendants in criminal cases should be presumed not guilty unless and until they are convicted. 

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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