Jury selection underway in trial for teen charged in Lawrence boy’s shooting death

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Almost 60 Douglas County residents reported Monday to participate in the jury selection process for a trial in the case of a Lawrence teen charged with first-degree murder.

Derrick D. Reed, 18, will be tried this week in connection with the shooting death of Kamarjay Shaw, 14, nearly one year ago. Douglas County District Judge Sally Pokorny previously ruled Reed would be tried as an adult and would not be granted immunity.

According to testimony earlier in the case, 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, then 17 years old, 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.)

Jury selection began Monday in the historic county courthouse on the corner of 11th and Massachusetts streets, across from the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center where the bulk of the trial will take place.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum asked the group of potential jurors a series of questions about their experiences and beliefs. Reed’s defense attorney, Mark Hartman, followed, asking his own list of questions and hypotheticals.

They wanted to analyze the potential jurors’ abilities to be unbiased and impartial, and to make sure they understood legal issues such as the state’s burden of proof and their responsibility to presume a defendant innocent until proven guilty.

Maya Hodison/Lawrence Times Derrick Reed, closest to the camera, sits with his defense attorney, Mark Hartman, as Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum, standing, questions prospective jurors on Monday, March 4, 2024 in the historic Douglas County Courthouse.

After finishing his questioning, Hartman opened the floor for prospective jurors to share additional information they wanted attorneys to know about them or to ask questions.

One potential juror, who said she’s Black and Hispanic, asked why she was the only person of color on the panel.

Hartman had said earlier Monday that the goal of the jury selection process is to ensure a jury that’s representative of the Douglas County community. In addition, Kamarjay was Black, and race has been an issue in the case, including in regard to messages Reed allegedly sent that used racial slurs.

Another potential juror later vocalized that she’s also a person of color. 

Hartman acknowledged the first potential juror’s point but said attorneys have no control over who gets called to jury duty service. He told her from his understanding, people eligible for jury duty possess a valid state-issued ID and are registered to vote and that they are chosen at random. She indicated she was content with Hartman’s response.

The vast majority of the panel Monday appeared to be white, which could also be credited to disproportionate racial demographics. According to the United States Census Bureau, approximately 83% of Douglas County residents are white.

Six potential jurors on Monday were struck from serving on the jury either because they have nonrefundable travel plans scheduled during the trial or because they said they could not be unbiased and impartial for a personal reason or belief. 


After group questioning concluded around 3 p.m., 17 other potential jurors were asked to stay and do one-on-one, private meetings with the attorneys, defendant and judge. Most of those 17 people had indicated they already knew some information about the case, whether they had learned through word of mouth or by reading news articles. The case has been highly publicized.

Everyone else was dismissed for the day and told to await a call Tuesday evening letting them know whether they’ve been selected.

Jury selection is expected to continue through Tuesday, when the second half of the potential juror pool has been summoned to appear. 

After the jury of 12, plus three alternates, is chosen, the attorneys will likely give opening statements Wednesday morning. Evidence will be presented and witnesses will give testimony as the trial proceeds.

The trial is set to last through this week and may continue into Monday and Tuesday next week.

Doors to the Division 2 courtroom at the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, 111 E. 11th St., will open at 8 a.m. each day. Seating inside is first-come, first-served, and proceedings will begin at 9 a.m.

Pokorny asks for total silence in the courtroom. Phones are not allowed inside. Wearing attire that shows support for either Kamarjay or Reed is not permitted, and people may be asked to turn shirts inside out or to leave to change. Three rule violations from anyone will result in a courtroom closed to the public for the remainder of the trial.

No plans have been established for a livestream of the proceedings to be available.

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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