Gunshot residue detected on teen, his car following shooting death of Lawrence boy

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Gunshot residue was detected on the teen charged with the shooting death of a Lawrence boy, but not on the alternative suspect the defense has suggested could have been responsible for the crime, according to evidence presented Friday.

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.

James Taber, Kansas Bureau of Investigation forensic scientist, testified Friday that primer gunshot residue (pGSR) was present on Reed’s left hand on March 19, 2023, the day after the shooting occurred, but not his right hand or face.

PGSR refers to the cloud of microscopic particles that’s released when a gun is fired. The particles — which Taber said somewhat imitate dust particles — can adhere to skin on the face, hands or other body parts in addition to clothing of either a person who fired from a firearm, a person who was in the vicinity of a firearm that was fired, or a person who handled an item with GSR on it.

Derrick Reed

To be characteristic of pGSR, three elements — lead, barium and antimony — must be significantly present in a sample, Taber said. Additionally, the sample has to be a certain spherical shape. If only two elements are present, the samples are considered characteristic of GSR. 

Lawrence police Detective Kim Nicholson, the lead detective on the case, testified Thursday that she collected samples from Reed’s face and both his hands after he turned himself in the day after the shooting occurred.

The other person Nicholson said she collected samples from for GSR tests in this case was Owen Walker, 19, a friend of Reed’s. She interviewed him and took the samples after midnight following the shooting. Reed’s defense attorney, Mark Hartman, has suggested Walker as a possible alternate suspect in the shooting. 

No pGSR was detected on the samples from Walker, Taber testified. 

Law enforcement officers who use firearms or visit gun ranges for work may frequently have pGSR on their person or personal items like their handcuffs, according to Taber. 

Hartman asked Taber whether since Reed was placed in handcuffs while Nicholson conducted the tests on him, microscopic particles from the handcuffs could’ve been transferred. Taber said the presence of handcuffs themselves would not cause someone to test positive for PGSR.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Defense attorney Mark Hartman

Two teen girls who are sisters both testified this week that they were at the scene when the shooting occurred but that they didn’t see who fired the shots. The girls followed Reed’s blue Chrysler as it sped away from the scene and confirmed they saw Reed in the driver’s seat and Walker with him on the passenger side. 

Michaela Long, crime scene technician with the Lawrence police department, testified Friday that she collected swabs for DNA and GSR from Reed’s blue Chrysler after it was recovered the day after the shooting. Those were also sent to the KBI for testing.


Particles consistent with and characteristic of pGSR were detected on the driver’s side interior door handle and the steering wheel, Taber said, and no pGSR was detected on the interior passenger door handle.

Taber said his department’s standard is to “default toward conservatism” when testing for pGSR, meaning if a result seems borderline, he will err on the side of caution and rule it negative.

Hartman asked Taber if that conservative approach may have worked to Reed’s disadvantage in this case, but Taber later told Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum that he had no doubt about the negative result for pGSR on the passenger side door handle — that it was clear.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum

Jana Ramsey, crime scene technician for the Lawrence Police Department, testified that there were no fingerprints on the gun that could be matched to known prints.

Local law enforcement currently has a warrant out for Walker but has been unable to find him.

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Monday, March 11. 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.

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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