Trial underway, jury selected in Lawrence double shooting, alleged battery of officer

photo by: Mackenzie Clark

Tommy May, left, confers with his defense attorney, Gary Conwell, as they consider which potential jurors to strike as May's trial gets underway on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019.

A jury has been selected in the trial of a Lawrence man charged in connection with a July 2, 2018, shooting that injured two people in the 700 block of West 25th Street.

Tommy J. May, 60, is accused of shooting a woman in the face in his apartment, then shooting a man, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down, then attempting to flee law enforcement and trying to hit an officer with his car at 21st and Louisiana streets.

The woman, Marzetta Yarbrough, testified that May accused her of taking too much of his methamphetamine to sell to a neighbor, then pistol-whipped her and shot her.

photo by: Mackenzie Clark

Defense attorney Gary Conwell questions potential jurors during jury selection for trial on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019 in Douglas County District Court. His client, Tommy May, was facing 10 charges total, including attempted murder.

However, during a motions hearing in October, May’s defense attorney, Gary Conwell, tried to invoke Kansas’ “stand your ground” law. He stated that May feared for his life because Yarbrough had come to his house and demanded money from him, concealing a gun. Conwell argued that when May declined, Yarbrough shot him in the arm; he then took the gun from her, hit her twice in the face with it and accidentally shot her.

The judge denied that claim, the Journal-World reported, saying Conwell did not provide enough evidence to support it.

The man, Jeremy Jones, testified unwillingly at a preliminary hearing for May, who he said is his friend. Jones said he was high on meth and didn’t really remember the events of the night.

Sgt. Robert Neff, of the Lawrence Police Department, testified that he chased May and fired at him when he allegedly accelerated toward Neff in his SUV, the Journal-World has reported. The district attorney’s office cleared Neff of any potential criminal charges in September 2018.

photo by: Mackenzie Clark

Senior Assistant Douglas County District Attorney Alice Walker questions potential jurors during jury selection for a trial on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019 in Douglas County District Court.

May is facing 10 total charges, including one count each of attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, possession of methamphetamine, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, fleeing police, and interference with law enforcement, plus three counts of criminal damage to property.

Prosecutor Alice Walker asked potential jurors about whether they had any strong opinions on issues such as credibility of witnesses who were using meth during the incidents about which they’ll testify, law enforcement and prosecution, treatment of people of color in the legal system and whether they had personally been victims of a crime, or if any of their family members had.

Six men and seven women, a majority of whom are white, comprise the 12 jurors and one alternate who will hear May’s case. Judge James McCabria said the alternate will not find out his or her status until the jury is set to begin deliberations.

Trial is set to resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

photo by: Mackenzie Clark

Prosecutors Alice Walker and David Melton consider which potential jurors to strike as Douglas County District Court Judge James McCabria, in the background, provides the jury pool with some instructions as trial begins on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019.


Correcton: A previous version of this story misstated the number of jurors in the trial. Six men and seven women — twelve jurors and one alternate — are hearing the case.

Contact Mackenzie Clark

Have a story idea, news or information to share? Contact public safety reporter Mackenzie Clark:


Related coverage

Aug. 23, 2019: Court denies ‘stand your ground’ self-defense claim in 2018 double shooting in central Lawrence

Oct. 25, 2018: List of charges grows against Lawrence man accused of double shooting, attack on police officer; trial set for April

Oct. 16, 2018: Effects of violence apparent when victims of Lawrence double shooting appear in court

Sept. 6, 2018: Officer won’t face criminal charges for firing at shooting suspect’s vehicle in July

July 16, 2018: Affidavit: Woman shot in face, man paralyzed in double shooting on 25th Street

July 5, 2018: Alleged gunman in West 25th Street double shooting charged with attempted murders

July 3, 2018: Neighbors describe aftermath of double shooting; KBI says officer fired ‘multiple times,’ may have hit suspect

July 2, 2018: 2 people shot in southern Lawrence; suspect and police officer also injured

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