Teens present during shooting death of Lawrence boy testify in trial; autopsy reveals bullet trajectory

Share this post or save for later

The teen girl who picked up another teen shortly after he allegedly shot a Lawrence boy testified Thursday to her recollection of that day’s events, some of which conflicts with the boy’s friends’ stories.

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 at approximately 5:05 p.m. March 18, 2023 in the 1300 block of Maple Street in Lawrence, the street where Reed resides.

According to the girl, now 18, who testified Thursday, she happened to be in the area of Reed’s house that evening because she was teaching her 15-year-old sister how to drive at a nearby park.

The younger sister, who was 14 at the time of the shooting, took videos on her Snapchat that placed her, her older sister and two other teen girls together at the scene. The older sister, who was 17 at the time, testified that all four girls were in her red Nissan Altima that day.

Three of the younger sister’s Snapchat videos were shown during Wednesday’s court proceeding. Two taken at 5:03 p.m. show Kamarjay and his friends in the middle of the street on Maple Lane. She took a third video at 5:05 p.m. while in a moving vehicle heading northbound, and she’s recording a blue Chrysler 300 — Reed’s car — speeding ahead of her, about to turn right on Haskell Avenue.

At some point before the shooting unfolded, the older sister switched seats with her younger sister. Now in the driver’s seat, the older sister began to drive toward Reed’s house because the girls saw Reed outside and wanted to say hi, she said because her younger sister was friends with him and they all knew of him.

She said Reed appeared to be moving his car from his driveway to park it curbside. Afterward, Reed went back inside his house. She wasn’t sure if her younger sister was or was not messaging him on her phone.

That’s when she saw Kamarjay and his group of friends, including four other teen boys and two teen girls, walking toward them on Maple Street, she testified. She had parked her car and it was facing the opposite direction of Kamarjay’s group, so she spotted them behind.

One of Kamarjay’s friends with him that evening — a 17-year-old boy who was 16 at the time of the shooting — testified at an earlier hearing in the case. He said that afternoon, the group was hanging out at the teen girls’ apartments located near Reed’s residence. One of the boys received a phone call about Reed wanting to fight. The two friend groups didn’t like each other and had a history of feuding.

Kamarjay’s group planned to make the short trip to Reed’s street where they expected to have a one-on-one fist fight. On their way out of the apartment on the second floor, they noticed metal poles at the bottom of the staircase and grabbed them for additional protection, he said.

Lawrence police Detective George Baker, who testified Wednesday, said the four poles officers found ranged from about 24 inches to 60 inches long, and they were fairly skinny but heavy metal pipes. 

Mackenzie Clark/Lawrence Times Lawrence Police Detective George Baker examines a metal pipe found near the scene of the shooting.

Kamarjay’s friend again testified on Thursday that some of them had metal poles, including himself. 

As the group was approaching, the 18-year-old girl testified Thursday, it seemed to her that Kamarjay was going to run up and hit her car with a pole. So she drove her car further up the street, moving south. Kamarjay didn’t end up hitting her car, and instead he and his friends headed toward Reed’s house. 

She continued, saying she heard “a bunch of screaming” from Kamarjay and his friends. She said she heard Reed tell them multiple times to leave but that one of Kamarjay’s friends kept telling him to come to the street and fight.

Two of the boys with Kamarjay that day testified Thursday that Reed was calling for them to come to his backyard, and they refused because being on his property might give him justification to do something to them.

The girl said she decided to pull forward and pull into a residential driveway in order to turn her car around. She said as she was turning, she heard two gunshots and didn’t see where they came from.

Very quickly after, she saw Reed get into the driver’s seat of his blue Chrysler and someone else get into his passenger seat, and they sped off. Video footage from a neighbor’s garage camera shows the blue Chrysler followed by the red Nissan speeding down Maple Street past where Kamarjay’s group retreated.

Advertisement

The girl didn’t know at the time, but she said she later discovered the passenger with Reed was Owen Walker, 19, a friend of Reed’s.

Local law enforcement currently has a warrant out for Walker, whom Reed’s defense attorney, Mark Hartman, has suggested could be the potential shooter instead of Reed. Law enforcement has been unable to find Walker. 

She said she doesn’t know why, but she sped ahead to follow Reed’s car. Eventually, she lost him as he was driving too fast, but then Reed got in contact with her younger sister and said he needed them to pick him and Walker up. They did, and then dropped them off at an unknown apartment.

She said no one in the car said anything about the shooting and that she heard Reed at one point say the word “court,” but that was all she remembers hearing.

The 17-year-old boy testified that he’s “99%” confident he saw Reed fire the first shot, and then his back was turned to run as the second shot fired. His claim is consistent with his prior testimony at an earlier hearing in the case, but not with what he told the lead detective the night of the shooting. The boy told Lawrence police Detective Kim Nicholson in his interview that he didn’t know who the shooter was.

Hartman questioned the inconsistency. During his testimony Thursday, the boy said his emotions were high as the shooting had just occurred. He also admitted he didn’t want Reed to be in custody; at first, he wanted him to face the same fate as Kamarjay.

He said all his friends wanted to follow Kamarjay to the hospital because no one knew whether he was still alive, but he was forced to go with police. Later in the interview, detectives told him Kamarjay had died.

“I was there against my will while my cousin (Kamarjay) was dying in the hospital,” the 17-year-old boy said Thursday.

The boy said he didn’t have his glasses on the day of the shooting because they were broken. Although he said he has bad eyesight, he said he’s sure he saw Reed’s hair, skin, face and arm or forearm tattoo.

He is the only person thus far to testify that he witnessed Reed pull the trigger.

Autopsy findings

According to autopsy findings, one bullet hit Kamarjay on the left side of his torso and traveled up to his heart.

Dr. Chris Geffre, a forensic and medical examiner with Forensic Medical Management Services in Nashville, testified Thursday that Kamarjay’s cause of death was a gunshot wound to his torso and his manner of death was ruled a homicide.

The bullet came into contact only with soft tissue, which Geffre defined as the “squishy parts of your body,” whereas hard tissue is bone and cartilage. It ultimately entered through an artery to his heart.

Five out of the six friends who were with Kamarjay when he was shot testified Thursday. All referred to him as their “cousin.” Although they weren’t related to him by blood, they said they all felt like his family.

One friend, a boy who was 14 at the time of the shooting, said he’d known Kamarjay since he was 5 or 6 and they’d always referred to each other as cousins. He testified that he helped pull Kamarjay into the apartment after realizing he was shot.

Advertisement

Another boy who was 14 when the shooting happened, and was present, said he’d known Kamajay since he was around 10 and that he was “like my brother.”

A 15-year-old girl, who was a longtime friend of Kamarjay, gave brief testimony that she was present when Kamarjay was shot. Her older sister, a 16-year-old, also testified that she was present. It was at their apartment where the group was hanging out prior to the shooting. They were 14 and 15 at the time.

The 17-year-old boy said several of them helped press a towel to Kamarjay’s wound and were tapping his face, but he kept falling asleep. Besides calling for his mother, “all we heard was the blood gargling,” he testified.

According to Geffre, the trajectory of the bullet was from “back to front, left to right and upwards” toward his heart. He said he was not able to testify to Kamarjay’s positioning when he was shot or how far away the shooter was; he would only speak to the trajectory.

Reed emotional after turning self in

Video evidence showed Reed was emotional after turning himself into police the day after the shooting.

A video played in court Thursday showed Nicholson, lead detective on the case, conducting gunshot residue testing (GSR) on Reed at approximately 1:45 p.m. March 19, 2023 in a police interview room.

In the video, Reed is heard crying and at times seen bowing and throwing back his head. He’s handcuffed and wearing a white T-shirt as Nicholson swabs him for potential GSR evidence.

He had turned himself in on March 19 after police issued a public statement that they were seeking him and his car. Lawrence police Officer Marla Keith testified Thursday that she and another officer recovered Reed’s car at 900 Delaware Street.

Nicholson testified Wednesday that the other person she took GSR testing from was Walker. She collected the kit from him about 12 hours earlier than Reed’s as she interviewed Walker after midnight following the shooting.

When asked by Senior Assistant District Attorney Ricardo Leal if Walker cried during his GSR testing, Nicholson replied he did not. The results of the GSR tests have not yet been shared with the jury.

The trial will resume Friday and likely continue into Monday and Tuesday 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 are not being 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.

If our local journalism matters to you, please help us keep doing this work.
Don’t miss a beat … Click here to sign up for our email newsletters


Click here to learn more about our newsletters first

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.

Related coverage:

MORE …

Latest Lawrence news:

MORE …

Previous Article

Lawrence school district shares plan to make up snow day time; Free State students walk out in protest

Next Article

Kansas Democrats blast GOP physicians for pushing disinformation in debate on anti-trans bill