Teen accused of killing another teen is not entitled to immunity from prosecution, judge rules; he’ll stand trial as an adult

photo by: Images courtesy of the Lawrence Police Department

Images police released of Derrick Del Reed and the Chrysler 300 he was driving while police searched for him after the shooting of Kamarjay Shaw, 14, on March 18, 2023.

Updated at 5:11 p.m. Monday, July 10

A Douglas County District Court judge on Monday denied a teenager accused of killing another teenager immunity from prosecution. The judge also ruled that the teen, who will turn 18 later this month, be tried as an adult.

Judge Sally Pokorny’s ruling came at a hearing for Derrick Del Reed, 17, of Lawrence, who is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Kamarjay Shaw, 14, of Lawrence, on March 18, 2023, in the 1300 block of Maple Lane.

Reed maintained that the shooting, which occurred on the heels of a series of confrontations between the two teens and their friends, was in self-defense. However, the state argued, and Pokorny agreed, that the evidence presented, including Shaw’s distance from Reed’s home — testimony indicated he did not come closer than the end of the driveway, or 33 feet away — and evidence that Shaw was shot in the back from a distance of approximately 190 feet, did not warrant immunity from prosecution. Using the “reasonable person” standard required in such cases, Pokorny concluded that a reasonable person in Reed’s situation who legitimately feared for his life would have called 911 instead of exiting the home to pursue a perceived threat.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum addresses Douglas County District Judge Sally Pokorny during a hearing on July 10, 2023, for Derrick Del Reed, 17, who is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Kamarjay Shaw, 14, on March 18, 2023.

The state, represented by Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum and Assistant District Attorney Ricardo Leal, also argued that Reed’s actions in leaving the scene and dumping his firearm were not the actions of someone who had just shot someone in self-defense.

Reed’s defense attorney, Mark Hartman, argued that Reed, based on confrontations between the friend groups earlier in the day and evidence that members of Shaw’s group came to Reed’s residence armed with metal poles and possibly other weapons, reasonably believed that his life was being threatened.

Hartman called two teenage girls as witnesses Monday morning. Both girls invoked their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent for fear of incriminating themselves. Both girls are facing felony obstruction charges in connection with the case and have attorneys who advised them not to testify. Hartman said one of the girls would have testified that someone in Shaw’s group of friends may have been carrying a gun during the altercation.

Pokorny noted that her ruling denying immunity from prosecution did not preclude Reed from arguing to a jury at trial that he acted in self-defense.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Defense Attorney Mark Hartman is pictured during a hearing on July 10, 2023, for his client Derrick Del Reed, 17, who is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Kamarjay Shaw, 14, on March 18, 2023.

After hearing the case for and against, Pokorny on Monday also ordered Reed to stand trial as an adult. Reed was 17 at the time of the shooting but will turn 18 on July 21.

Robin Rooks with Juvenile Community Corrections said the longest Reed could serve, if convicted as a juvenile, would be until he was 22.5 years old.

Among her reasons for ordering adult status, Pokorny noted the serious and violent nature of Shaw’s death by a firearm; evidence that Reed fired into a group of retreating juveniles — behavior that she cited as “aggressive, violent and willful conduct”; evidence that Reed taunted other juveniles to come onto his property; the fact that he was living not with his parents but in a “roommate situation” with his sister and that he had some employment; and the fact that Reed was closer to 18 than 17 when he shot Shaw.

“I weigh his age against him,” Pokorny said.

Even though an expert who evaluated Reed said he was a good candidate for redemption, noting his lack of prior arrests among other things, Pokorny was not persuaded, saying “there’s always a capacity for redemption” no matter one’s age or circumstances. Nor was she persuaded by the defense’s argument that Reed should be treated as a child based on theories of incomplete adolescent brain development.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Judge Sally Pokorny reads through case law when ruling on July, 10 2023, that 17-year-old Derrick Del Reed will be tried as an adult for first-degree murder in Douglas County District Court. Reed is charged in the shooting death of Kamarjay Shaw, 14, on March 18, 2023.

She also said that trying Reed as an adult was a matter of community safety. The 4.5 years that he would spend in juvenile incarceration if convicted was “probably not” enough time to serve for such a grave offense, she said.

Monday’s hearing was broadcast on YouTube, and in-person attendance was limited, after the last hearing in Reed’s case became chaotic, necessitating that the judge clear the courtroom of spectators, as the Journal-World reported.

Reed is next scheduled to appear in court on July 18, when the state will refile charges against him as an adult, and Pokorny will set a bond now that Reed will be subjected to the adult justice system. Pokorny also scheduled a preliminary hearing on August 14.


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