Jury won’t be sequestered in trial for Lawrence teen accused of murdering 14-year-old; gunshot residue can be admitted, judge rules

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Derrick Del Reed is pictured during a hearing on Feb. 16, 2024. Reed is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of 14-year-old Kamarjay Shaw on March 18, 2023.

Jurors will not be sequestered when a Lawrence teen charged with murdering a 14-year-old boy stands trial later this year, and gunshot residue found on the defendant can be admitted as evidence, a judge ruled Friday in Douglas County District Court.

Those were two of several issues that the judge, Sally Pokorny, considered at Friday’s hearing in the case of 18-year-old Derrick Del Reed. As the Journal-World reported, Reed is alleged to have fatally shot Kamarjay Shaw, 14, of Lawrence, on March 18, 2023, in the 1300 block of Maple Lane. He is charged with one count of first-degree murder and is scheduled to go to trial on March 4.

One of the big issues at Friday’s hearing was whether jurors should be sequestered, or isolated, during that trial. Reed’s attorney, Mark Hartman, argued that they should be. He said he was concerned for the safety of the jury and wanted to ensure that nobody would approach jurors and threaten them or otherwise try to influence their verdict.

Hartman cited a previous hearing in the case in June 2023, in which a crowd caused repeated disruptions in the gallery and then spilled out of the building, where loud outbursts and fighting continued and several people were arrested. The courthouse was briefly locked down because of that disruption.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Attorney Mark Hartman is pictured during a hearing on Feb. 16, 2024. His client, Derrick Del Reed, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of 14-year-old Kamarjay Shaw on March 18, 2023.

Pokorny denied Hartman’s request for sequestration. She said that while she thought Hartman’s concerns were valid, she had conferred with other judges and court staff and none of them could think of any instances in more than 40 years where a jury had been sequestered in Douglas County. She also said that in hearings since the one in June, extra restrictions and security had been in place, and no similar disruptions had occurred.

Pokorny also ruled Friday that the gunshot residue that was found on Reed after the shooting could be admitted into evidence.

Hartman had challenged the state’s expert on gunshot residue reports, KBI forensic scientist James Taber, and had questions about the accuracy of the methods used to analyze the residue. On Friday, Taber testified that gunshot residue testing is based in well-established science, that the KBI requires its technicians to undergo annual reviews, and that their work is also subject to peer review.

The prosecutors, Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum and Senior Assistant District Attorney Ricardo Leal, had some requests of their own. One was to prevent Hartman from referring to Reed’s age during the trial — Tatum said she was worried that Hartman might prejudice the jury by referring to Reed as “just a child” when the shooting occurred.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Derrick Del Reed, left, Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum, center, and Judge Sally Pokorny, right, are pictured during a hearing on Feb. 16, 2024. Reed is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of 14-year-old Kamarjay Shaw on March 18, 2023.

Tatum also said she thought Hartman would attempt to argue at trial that a different man might have been responsible for Shaw’s death — 19-year-old Owen Gage Walker. She said she thought Hartman would likely refer to a statement from a witness, who told police on the day of the shooting that she saw the shooting happen and that the shooter was a light-skinned African American male.

As the Journal-World reported, that witness would later testify that she did not actually see the shooting happen, because she was moving from window to window in her home to see what was going on and ducked for cover when the shots were fired.

Walker is currently wanted by Lawrence police on suspicion of obstruction, but has not been charged with any other crimes in connection with the shooting. According to court documents, Walker told police in the days after the shooting that he was with Reed at the time of the shooting and when Reed fled the scene. Walker told police that Reed fired at Shaw and a crowd of other boys who were allegedly displaying weapons because they had damaged Reed’s sister’s car.

photo by: Lawrence Police Department

Owen Gage Walker is pictured in this notice from the Lawrence Police Department. Walker is suspected of felony obstruction in connection with the shooting death of 14-year-old Kamarjay Shaw on March 18, 2023.

Pokorny said she would not restrict Hartman from mentioning Reed’s age, discussing Walker or presenting evidence that suggested someone other than Reed may have committed the shooting. She said if there was a more specific issue that arose during trial, the state could object at that time.

Some issues in the case are still awaiting a ruling. Pokorny has not yet ruled on whether an Instagram photo of Shaw holding a firearm would be allowed at trial, nor on whether Hartman could bring up the criminal charges for robbery and aggravated assault that were pending against Shaw at the time of his death. Shaw had never been convicted of any crime.

Pokorny scheduled another hearing on those issues for Feb. 22 by Zoom.


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