Detective skeptical of defense attorney’s proposed alternate suspect in Lawrence boy’s shooting death

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The defense attorney representing a teen charged with the shooting death of a Lawrence boy has proposed an alternative suspect; however, a Lawrence detective who worked on the case said the evidence doesn’t support that.

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.

The shooting took place in the 1300 block of Maple Street.

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 June 2 hearing in this article.)

During that June 2 hearing, a neighbor 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.

Lawrence police Detective Kim Nicholson on Wednesday testified that when she interviewed that neighbor the night of the shooting, the neighbor gave a highly detailed description of who she claims to have seen. She said the person was a teen male who is light-skinned with light brown skin, black hair, and a little bit of facial hair, and who’s slightly more than 5 feet tall.

Derrick Reed

Hartman during his opening statement Wednesday said the neighbor’s description matched Owen Walker, 19, whom Hartman alluded to as the potential shooter. Walker was at Reed’s residence that day as the two were friends. (Read more from opening statements in this article from Wednesday afternoon.)

For months, Walker has had a warrant out for his arrest in connection to the case, but law enforcement has not been able to find him. 

The Lawrence Police Department and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office have blasted a flyer — shown during testimony Wednesday — to their social media accounts asking the public to help locate Walker. It describes Walker as 5-foot-8 and 140 pounds, and the photo of him depicts a light-skinned Black male.

When Hartman asked about the accuracy of Walker’s height on the flyer, Nicholson said he could be taller than 5-foot-8 but definitely wasn’t as short as 5 feet.

“I’m 5’2”, and he towered over me,” Nicholson said.

The height difference between Walker and the person the neighbor described caused too much discrepancy for Nicholson to consider Walker as the shooter, she told Hartman.

Nicholson also said she’s often wary of eyewitness testimony. Hartman asked why she didn’t give the neighbor a photo lineup to see if she could identify Walker, as the neighbor had told Nicholson that she’d seen the person she described around her neighborhood before. She responded it’s the department’s prerogative to not do photo lineups unless the witness has personal knowledge of the person they’re looking to identify.

Based on her and her team’s investigation, which Nicholson said included speaking to witnesses who personally knew Reed, she concluded that he was their suspect. She didn’t go into more detail about what else from her interview with the neighbor stood out, but said after talking with her, she was content not doing a photo lineup.


The neighbor, who was observing from multiple windows in her house across the street, gave a description of the handgun she said she saw the teen holding, as well. She said it had “etching” on the side.

Nicholson walked the jury through photos of the process to recover the gun. Hartman had reached out to Nicholson to let her know where the gun was stashed. Nicholson then collected the firearm from underneath some leaves by a bush near East 12th Street and Laura Avenue on the afternoon of March 20, two days after the shooting. 

Hartman filed a motion last month that stated Walker was the one who had notified Hartman where the gun was stashed after the shooting — not Reed. The attorneys and judge agreed on Feb. 28 that jurors would be told that “The gun was recovered based on a tip. That tip did not come from Derrick Reed.”

In his opening statement Wednesday, Hartman said that “While Owen was on the run, Derrick turned himself in; Derrick demanded a jury trial.”

Prosecutors have more questions for Nicholson, but Wednesday’s proceeding wrapped up early at around 4 p.m. as Pokorny said there wasn’t enough time to get through the next portion and still be able to release jurors on time at 5 p.m.

The trial will pick back up on Thursday morning with Nicholson on the stand.

Timeline; cars seen fleeing the scene

Nicholson on Wednesday also testified that Reed fled the scene driving a blue Chrysler 300 following the shooting.

“Based on video surveillance, we observed him get into a vehicle and drive off,” Nicholson said.

Still images from video footage shown in court for the first time Wednesday depict a person holding an object in their right hand while on the driver’s side of the blue Chrysler. The person is wearing all black clothing and something blue on top of their head and comes into frame on the car’s driver side. As the images progress, the person looks to be getting inside the car.

That car was also seen speeding after Kamarjay and his friends, who were running away, right after the shooting, video from a neighbor’s garage camera shows. A red car was also seen in that surveillance footage speeding right behind the blue Chrysler as if it was following.

According to Hartman, the shooting occurred at approximately 5:05 p.m. March 18. The first 911 call for Kamarjay came in at 5:06 p.m. Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Troy Miller was the first officer to arrive at the apartment complex around 5:10 p.m., and he held a towel on Kamarjay’s wounds while they waited for more help.

Videos recovered from the Snapchat account of a teen girl involved in the case — the same girl who one of Kamarjay’s friends said called them out for a fight that day — puts her and three other teen girls at the scene, associated with the red car.


The girl took two videos on Snapchat at 5:03 p.m. that show Kamarjay and his friends in the middle of the street. She took a third video at 5:05 p.m. while in a moving vehicle heading northbound, and she’s recording the blue Chrysler ahead of her, about to turn right on Haskell Avenue.

Nicholson testified that she interviewed the girl the night of the shooting. The girl told Nicholson that at one point Kamarjay came running toward her car kicking it, but that does not happen in any video that has been played in court so far.

Contrary to previous testimony from Kamarjay’s friends, the girl said some of the boys who were with Kamarjay that day were messaging her to start a physical altercation, Nicholson said. The girl added that one of the two girls who were with Kamarjay’s group of friends potentially wanted to fight her.

The girl said she didn’t know who fired the gun because she was facing the opposite direction, according to Nicholson.

The trial will continue through this week and potentially into next week. Proceedings are set to begin at 9 a.m. 

Seating inside the Division II courtroom is first-come, first-served, and doors to the courthouse open at 8 a.m. Cell phones are strictly prohibited in the courtroom.

Proceedings will not be livestreamed.

Read more about the case in the links below, and read about opening statements in this article from Wednesday afternoon.

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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