Detective walks jurors down bloody trail through crime scene photos from Lawrence shooting

photo by: Mackenzie Clark

Detective George Baker of the Lawrence Police Department steps down from the witness stand after he testifies during trial Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.

After two full days of evidence for the state, jurors have barely skimmed the surface of the second scene involved in the Lawrence shooting case they’re hearing.

They did, however, get a photo walkthrough of the first crime scene from the Lawrence detective who led that investigation.

Tommy J. May, 60, of Lawrence, faces 10 felony charges in connection with an alleged two-part incident from July 2, 2018.

photo by: Mackenzie Clark

Tommy May, of Lawrence, listens as his lawyer questions a Lawrence detective during trial Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.

First, May is accused of shooting Marzetta Yarbrough and Jeremy C. Jones Sr. at the fourplex at 713 W. 25th St. He then allegedly fled police, causing property damage in the process, and hit an officer with his GMC Jimmy.

As jurors began to hear about the police pursuit late Wednesday afternoon, May’s defense attorney, Gary Conwell, objected to prosecutors playing a video that contains clips from two Lawrence traffic cameras. The detective at the witness stand to testify to the video’s veracity did not know whether the disc contained the full hour of footage he’d exported or just the few pertinent moments.

It was not the first objection Conwell had raised about evidence on Wednesday, and prosecutors asked to recess for the day at 4:45 p.m. None of the traffic camera footage was played in court on Wednesday.

photo by: Mackenzie Clark

From left, Douglas County District Court Judge James McCabria, defense attorney Gary Conwell, and prosecutors Alice Walker and David Melton confer at the bench during trial Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.

• • •

Detective George Baker of the Lawrence Police Department walked jurors through a presentation he’d made with photos from the shooting scene.

He and Detective Ryan Padilla had documented a large spatter of blood on the back door of May’s apartment where Yarbrough was shot, as well as a trail of blood down the wooden stairs to the driveway and all the way around the south side of the building — toward the bushes where Yarbrough testified that she’d hid, thinking she was going to die.

photo by: Mackenzie Clark

Senior Assistant Douglas County District Attorney Alice Walker questions a Lawrence police officer during trial Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.

Four swabs of bloodstains were submitted to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and all were Yarbrough’s blood, Baker testified.

The detectives found just two shell casings, both 9 mm. The casings were different brands, but Baker said that wasn’t uncommon. In response to a question from prosecutor Alice Walker, Baker agreed that people who aren’t legally able to own guns will buy ammunition wherever they can get it.

One cartridge was found at the bottom of the stairs leading to the apartments below May’s and Jones’. The other was found in the kitchen, near the back door of May’s apartment. There was no other ammunition found there, Baker testified. There was a holster in May’s closet that would have fit the Hi-Point C-9 handgun police collected from the second crime scene.

In response to a question from Conwell, Baker agreed that it did not appear that anyone had been cooking in the apartment. However, Yarbrough had testified that she’d complimented the smell of the food May was cooking when she arrived at his apartment that day.

According to previous testimony, including a call to 911, May only reentered his apartment for a couple of moments after he allegedly shot Jones before leaving the scene in his SUV.

• • •

Micki Ryan, Jones’ girlfriend at the time, testified about her recollection of that night. Jurors also heard her call to 911.

Ryan said that she and Jones got in a brief verbal dispute with Yarbrough and May “about an ex of mine,” but they agreed to disagree and went back inside the neighboring apartments. Moments later, Ryan heard a gunshot and a scream; she said she knew it was Yarbrough screaming, “Oh God, somebody please help me.”

photo by: Mackenzie Clark

Defense attorney Gary Conwell questions a detective during trial Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.

Ryan said that Jones asked May why he shot Yarbrough, and that May replied “Mother (expletive) always trying to fight for somebody.” Then, when Jones turned to go help Yarbrough, “the gun goes off and I don’t see Jeremy anymore,” Ryan said. Then she called 911.

Ryan said she initially didn’t tell dispatchers who shot Jones because May was walking past her with his gun at that moment.

“I was afraid he’d shoot me,” Ryan said.

Conwell pointed out some inconsistencies between what Ryan said on the stand and what she’d told police immediately after the shooting. She said she was distraught that she was being interviewed at that time, and she wanted to be with her boyfriend at the hospital.

The shooting left Jones paralyzed from the waist down. He now uses a wheelchair.

The jury also heard audio recordings from the microphones of two officers, the first ones on the scene. Amid the chaos, Jones can be heard moaning in pain, and Yarbrough can be heard screaming, then moaning and crying.

Asked why he had asked Yarbrough who did that to her at that moment, LPD Officer Chase Fraser said, “I thought she was going to die.”

photo by: Mackenzie Clark

Deputy Douglas County District Attorney David Melton questions a Lawrence detective during trial Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.

Dr. Nicholas Hosey, who treated Yarbrough in the emergency room of Overland Park Regional Medical Center, testified about her condition after the shooting. Yarbrough was confused and had low blood pressure, he said. He said he had been concerned about her ability to breathe, so he put in a chest tube to relieve her chest cavity of blood.

Hosey said the head wound from where May allegedly pistol-whipped Yarbrough was closed with three staples. The bullet wound to her cheek, a puncture hole near her nose and cheekbone and a longer scrape down the side of her cheek were sealed with sutures.

Hosey and radiologist Dr. Joseph Varriano said the pattern of wounds — from Yarbrough’s face to her shoulder and back — was consistent with one shot being fired from above her. Varriano also said the angle would be typical of a taller person shooting a shorter person.

May is about a foot taller than Yarbrough.

• • •

Altogether, May is charged with first-degree attempted murder, second-degree attempted 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.

The trial began Monday and was originally planned to run through Friday, but it could extend into next week. It will resume Thursday morning.

Contact Mackenzie Clark

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


Trial coverage

Dec. 10, 2019: Lawrence shooting trial intensifies as defense attorney probes victim’s testimony

Dec. 9, 2019: Trial underway, jury selected in Lawrence double shooting, alleged battery of officer


Previous 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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