Jury to decide case in shooting of Lawrence boy; prosecutors say teen planned to kill, but defense attorney says evidence creates doubt

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A Douglas County jury is deliberating whether they believe a teen intended to shoot and kill a 14-year-old Lawrence boy last year, whether the teen acted recklessly, or whether they doubt that he was the one who pulled the trigger at all. 

Derrick D. Reed, 18, is being tried for first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of Kamarjay Shaw, 14, on March 18, 2023. 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 from teens present at the shooting, members of Reed’s group of friends and members of Kamarjay’s group of friends were expecting a one-on-one fist fight between each other the day of the shooting.

Pokorny read the jury instructions Monday afternoon ahead of roughly 45-minute closing arguments from each side.

Mackenzie Clark/Lawrence Times Douglas County District Judge Sally Pokorny instructs jurors in the trial of Derrick Reed, March 11, 2024.

Jurors could acquit Reed or convict him of one of five charges:
• First-degree murder, meaning Reed planned and intended to kill Kamarjay or one of the boys who was with him;
• Second-degree murder, meaning Reed intended to kill but did not plan to;
• Reckless second-degree murder, meaning Reed showed “extreme indifference” to human life;
• Voluntary manslaughter, meaning Reed knowingly killed after a sudden quarrel; or
• Involuntary manslaughter, meaning Reed had acted recklessly and killed. 

In closing arguments Monday afternoon, the prosecutor pushed jurors toward convicting Reed of first-degree murder, while Reed’s defense attorney told them they could go the rest of their lives wondering if they had convicted the wrong teenager. 

Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum said Reed was the only teen who took the high school feud up to another level.

Mackenzie Clark/Lawrence Times Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum gestures toward Derrick Reed as she gives her closing arguments, March 11, 2024.

“There would’ve never been a gun involved in this if it weren’t for Derrick Reed, sitting right there,” Tatum said to the jury as she pointed to Reed sitting in the courtroom.

She began and ended her closing argument Monday by refocusing on messages Reed sent to a group of his friends via Snapchat the day of the shooting, specifically those in which he repeatedly used a racial slur. Some he sent that morning included “But we (ain’t) got number to be fighting” followed by “So bout time to shoot shit fr (for real),” and “I see a hole lotta dead n—-s in my eyes (they) trynna f— wit me an mines”.

Evidence shows he continued using similar language in messages that day and mentioned wanting to save money to buy a gun, which Tatum said contributed to his premeditation. Additionally, Kamarjay was shot from behind as he and his friends were running away.


One of Kamarjay’s friends, a 17-year-old boy, who was running away with him when he was shot has remained the sole witness to say they saw Reed pull the trigger. Tatum said the boy’s testimony is stronger than that of a neighbor who said she witnessed a light brown-skinned teen male holding a gun near Reed’s mailbox before gunshots rang.

Tatum said the neighbor has been “mistaken” in her account that someone else besides Reed had a gun. The neighbor was watching from the front windows in her house, at a distance of approximately 75 feet from the incident. Part of the description she gave law enforcement included a height that doesn’t match the height of an alternative suspect the defense has proposed — Owen Walker, 19.

But Reed’s defense attorney, Mark Hartman, said Kamarjay’s friend’s testimony was unreliable. He has bad eyesight and wasn’t wearing his glasses at the time of the shooting, and video footage of his interview with lead Detective Kim Nicholson that night showed he did not immediately identify Reed as the shooter.

Mackenzie Clark/Lawrence Times Defense attorney Mark Hartman speaks to jurors during his closing arguments in the trial of his client, Derrick Reed, March 11, 2024.

Hartman told jurors during his closing arguments that they would have to “completely disregard” the neighbor’s story to convict Reed. He said Reed was brave enough to surrender to law enforcement the day after the shooting; Walker, however, is nowhere to be found.

“When Derrick Reed turned himself in, he put an immeasurable amount of trust into the system,” Hartman said to the jury.

Hartman questioned primer gunshot residue (pGSR) results that were admitted as evidence as well as the Lawrence Police Department’s process to collect and submit samples for the testing. 

He said the department didn’t follow the Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s guidelines at the time, which recommended departments consult with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation Trace Evidence Section before submitting samples taken eight or more hours after an alleged crime occurred.


KBI forensic scientist James Taber on Friday testified that pGSR was detected on Reed’s left hand but not his right hand or his face. PGSR was also detected on the steering wheel and driver’s side of Reed’s blue Chrysler 300 that two teen girls present at the scene testified seeing him speed off in.

No pGSR was detected on Walker’s hands or face. But Hartman said the absence of GSR does not eliminate a person from having fired a gun, as he clarified with Taber during his testimony Friday. 

Hartman told jurors that if they have any doubt that Reed committed the shooting, they must not convict him. 

Mackenzie Clark/Lawrence Times Derrick Reed stands to speak to the judge on March 11, 2024, during his trial.

The jury, made up of nine women and six men who largely appear to be white, will return at 9 a.m. Tuesday to deliberate. Three alternate jurors are on standby in the event that one of the jurors is unable to fulfill their duty.

Jurors are tasked with coming to a unanimous verdict. They can find Reed guilty of murder in the first degree or one of the four lesser charges, or they could acquit him entirely. If jurors cannot agree on a verdict, the case would likely result in a mistrial.

Testimony in the trial began Wednesday. Both the state and the defense rested their cases shortly before noon Monday after a bit more testimony. (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.

Because you asked:

The Lawrence Times news team aims to answer reader questions whenever we can. On Monday, a reader asked why we’ve been using the names we’ve used throughout this case for the boy who was killed and the teen charged with his murder but did not provide contact information so that we could respond directly.

We’re following Associated Press style for names. Here’s what the Stylebook says: “In general, use only last names on second reference. … In general, call children 15 or younger by their first name on second reference. Use the last name, however, if the seriousness of the story calls for it, as in a murder case, for example. For ages 16 and 17, use judgment, but generally go with the surname unless it’s a light story. Use the surname for those 18 and older.”

Kamarjay Shaw was 14 years old when he died. Derrick Reed was 17 at the time of the shooting and has since turned 18. In addition, many of our stories about the case have included multiple members of Kamarjay’s family, and our style is generally to use first names only on second reference if two people in a story have the same last name to help avoid confusion and repetition.

Have questions about our coverage? Please feel free to contact us. Transparency is very important to our news team.

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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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Jury to decide case in shooting of Lawrence boy; prosecutors say teen planned to kill, but defense attorney says evidence creates doubt

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A Douglas County jury is deliberating whether they believe a teen intended to shoot and kill a 14-year-old Lawrence boy last year, whether the teen acted recklessly, or whether they doubt that he was the one who pulled the trigger at all. 


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