List of charges grows against Lawrence man accused of double shooting, attack on police officer; trial set for April

photo by: Sara Shepherd

Tommy J. May, of Lawrence, appears in Douglas County District Court on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018, the second day of his preliminary hearing. May is charged in connection with a July 2, 2018, double shooting on West 25th Street.

Jeremy Jones took the witness stand Thursday at a hearing for the man charged with shooting him, leaving him paralyzed.

But Jones made clear he was only there because of a court order that he be jailed if he refused.

When asked if the reason he didn’t want to testify was because the alleged shooter, Tommy J. May, was a friend, Jones answered, “yes.”

The reticent Jones was the final witness at a two-day preliminary hearing for May, 59, of Lawrence. In addition to two attempted murder charges May had been facing already, Douglas County District Court Judge James McCabria bound May over for trial on a string of additional charges based on evidence that came out during the hearing.

The charges are in connection with a July 2 double shooting at May’s home, a four-plex at 713 W. 25th St.

May shot a woman who was visiting him, then shot Jones, his next-door neighbor, according to earlier testimony. He reportedly drove off in his green SUV, speeding away from police and crashing into a fire hydrant at 21st and Louisiana streets.

When Lawrence Police Department Sgt. Robert Neff ordered May out of his vehicle, May accelerated backwards into Neff’s patrol car, then drove forward directly at Neff, hitting him, Neff testified last week.

May drove off again before crashing into a homeowner’s garage about a block away, running from his SUV and being captured by police nearby, according to testimony.

May is now charged with 10 counts in all and is set to go on trial beginning April 15. May pleaded not guilty and waived his speedy trial rights to accommodate his attorney’s schedule and give him time to prepare.

May said the extra time was not of concern to him.

“I will waive speedy trial. My objective is to get to the bottom of this situation and to have a favorable outcome,” May told the judge. “I understand the dynamics of my rights.”

May’s charges, as read by the judge, are:

• Attempted first-degree murder for allegedly shooting Marzetta Yarbrough in the face, and attempted second-degree murder for allegedly shooting Jones in the torso.

• Aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, for allegedly hitting Neff with his car.

• Possession of methamphetamine, as Yarbrough testified that May had a quantity of meth in his apartment and police found a baggie of it on the floorboard of his car.

• Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. May has a criminal history including a felony conviction from Saline County that he spent time in Kansas prison for.

• Fleeing police, for allegedly speeding away from Neff.

• Interference with law enforcement, for allegedly running from another officer after crashing his car the second time.

• Three counts of criminal damage to property, for allegedly crashing into the fire hydrant, Neff’s patrol car and the homeowner’s garage.

In response to questioning from prosecutor David Melton and May’s appointed defense attorney Gerald Wells, Jones said that he’d known May for a few months before the shooting, since moving into the apartment next to May’s.

At times Jones spoke inaudibly and was ordered to repeat responses, or ordered to answer questions he initially responded to with silence.

“I don’t want to be here, bro,” he told McCabria at one point.

The night of July 2, Jones said he initially went outside after hearing “noise like a firecracker going off.” He saw Yarbrough injured and asked May, who’d also come outside, if he’d shot her. He said May told him no.

Jones said he heard another pop, could not feel his legs and fell to the ground. Melton pressed him to answer whether the second pop he heard was a gunshot and whether he was shot.

“I guess it was a gun — I got a bullet in me,” Jones said.

Asked what May said to him as he was lying on the ground, Jones would not answer. When Melton asked him specifically whether it was, “you ain’t so [expletive] tough now, are you?” Jones said, “yeah.”

In response to questions from Wells, Jones said that at the time of the shooting he wasn’t “high, high” but that he was still “up” after using meth earlier. Jones said he’d been awake “probably three, or four, or five days,” fueled by the drug.

Wells asked whether Jones was “under duress” when he talked to a detective at the hospital after the shooting, and Jones answered yes.

“I just told him a statement so they’d leave me alone,” Jones said.

Contact Journal-World public safety reporter Sara Shepherd


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