Attorneys offer opposing theories on shooting of Lawrence boy as teen’s jury trial gets underway

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Prosecutors say a Lawrence teen took a long-running disagreement to a lethal level, shooting and killing a 14-year-old boy last March. But the teen’s defense attorney is pointing at another potential suspect. 

Derrick D. Reed, 18, is being tried for first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of Kamarjay Shaw, 14, nearly one year ago. Douglas County District Judge Sally Pokorny previously ruled that Reed, who was 17 years old at the time of the shooting, 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 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.)

Kamarjay was Black and Reed is white, and race has been an issue in the case, including in regard to Snapchat messages Reed allegedly sent that used racial slurs. 

Senior Assistant District Attorney Ricardo Leal began his opening statement Wednesday by referring to one of those messages, which read “I see a hole lotta dead n—-s in my eyes (they) trynna f— wit me an mines.” 

The attorneys chose 12 jurors and three alternates after jury selection Monday and Tuesday. The jurors will ultimately be tasked with reaching a unanimous verdict. The vast majority of the 15 jurors appear to be white. 

Mackenzie Clark/Lawrence Times Senior Assistant District Attorney Ricardo Leal gives opening statements in Derrick Reed’s case, March 6, 2024.

Leal told jurors that Reed’s friend group and Kamarjay’s friend group didn’t like each other, and that “On March 18 of last year, Reed took a disagreement and not getting along to a lethal level.”

Leal said he’s confident that after the jurors hear all the evidence, they will find the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Reed committed the crime.

Reed’s defense attorney, Mark Hartman, followed with his opening statement, summarizing the chain of events leading up to the shooting, including an interaction a witness previously testified he saw between the two groups earlier that day. That witness said he saw them in the area of 27th and Iowa streets, and one of the teens in Kamarjay’s group was holding a machete but didn’t raise it.

Mackenzie Clark/Lawrence Times Defense attorney Mark Hartman gives opening statements during trial for his client, Derrick Reed, on March 6, 2024.

Hartman also insinuated that Reed may not have been the one to pull the trigger.

A neighbor previously testified that she witnessed a teen who was not Reed holding a firearm, about 3 feet from Reed’s door. She called 911, and she said the phone was ringing when she heard the gunshots fired.

Hartman said she described the male as “light-skinned” to police, and that her description matches Owen Walker, 19, who was at the scene that day. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has had a warrant out for him for months, and he’s currently nowhere to be found.

“While Owen was on the run, Derrick turned himself in; Derrick demanded a jury trial,” Hartman said.

Pokorny told the jurors who were selected as alternates of their status, but she said she was confident at least one of them would need to step in at some point, citing illnesses that have been spreading in Douglas County, and that they need to treat the trial as though they are not alternates. 

Testimony will continue Wednesday afternoon, through this week and potentially into Monday and Tuesday of next week. The proceedings will not be livestreamed. Read more about the case at the links below.

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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