Questions about how much the jury can hear about alleged murder weapon may delay trial in shooting of teen

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.

Whether a murder trial set for the first week of March will be held was called into question on Friday after a judge ruled that the defense attorney cannot take the stand to testify on his teen client’s behalf about how the alleged murder weapon was found.

The teen defendant, Derrick Del Reed, 18, is charged with one count of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of 14-year-old Kamarjay Shaw on March 18, 2023, in the 1300 block of Maple Lane in Lawrence, as the Journal-World reported. Reed was 17 at the time of the shooting but the court ordered that he should be tried as an adult and he has since turned 18. The court also ruled in the early stages of the case that Reed was not entitled to immunity from prosecution based on a claim of self-defense.

On Friday, Judge Sally Pokorny ruled that Reed’s attorney, Mark Hartman, could not testify. She said not only would Hartman taking the stand be in violation of Kansas’ standards of professional conduct for attorneys but that it would also confuse jurors. She said jurors are instructed that what attorneys at trial say is not to be considered evidence and Hartman’s testimony would blur that line. Hartman argued that attorney rules of conduct allowed an attorney to testify in certain situations.

Hartman wanted to take the stand and testify how the gun alleged to have killed Shaw was found. The Journal-World previously reported that Hartman had told police where the gun could be located, but details behind how Hartman knew where it was were unclear. Hartman said on Friday that Reed did not give him that information but that the information came from Owen Walker, 19, of Lawrence.

“100% of that information came from Owen Walker,” Hartman said.

Walker, according to court documents, was a friend of Reed’s and allegedly was at the scene of the shooting. Walker is currently charged with felony interference and obstruction and is wanted by the police in connection with the case.

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.

Hartman said that after Reed turned himself in the day after Shaw was killed, he spoke with Lawrence Police Detective Kimberlee Nicholson prior to Reed being charged by the District Attorney’s Office. He said the majority of the conversation was whether police should recommend a first- or second-degree murder charge, and at the end of the conversation Nicholson said that it would be helpful if they could recover the gun used in the crime.

Hartman then contacted Walker, who gave him instructions in text messages on how to find the weapon that had been disposed of in a bush, and Hartman relayed that information to Nicholson.

The state, represented by Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum and Senior Assistant District Attorney Ricardo Leal, objected to Hartman testifying because not only was it in violation of the professional rules of conduct, they said, but it was also hearsay because Walker is unavailable to testify as his current location is unknown. Without Walker’s presence, the state would not be able to question him about the details of his interactions with Hartman, Tatum said.

Hartman said the court could instruct the jury to view his testimony “not for the truth of the matter” but just to explain how the gun was located by law enforcement. He said it was important for Reed’s defense that the jury know that Walker was aware of where the weapon was located.

“It’s being offered to show the alternative suspect (Walker) knew where the gun was at,” Hartman said.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

left to right, Derrick Del Reed, Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum, Attorney Mark Hartman, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Ricardo Leal, are pictured during a hearing on Feb. 16, 2024. Hartman’s client, Reed, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of 14-year-old Kamarjay Shaw on March 18, 2023.

Hartman said that he had informed the state in October 2023 about the issue and that he may have to testify but the state only objected to it this week. He said that if he was not allowed to testify, Reed may need a different attorney to represent him at trial if Reed decides Hartman’s testimony is crucial to his defense. Hartman said that at a minimum Reed should consult a second attorney about the issue since Hartman himself could not give fair counsel as to whether Reed should continue to retain him.

Pokorny said that she was committed to finding a solution that did not cause a delay in the trial and one that didn’t require Hartman to withdraw. She asked the parties to try and negotiate a way that the attorneys could explain to the jury how police found the gun without Hartman needing to testify, and Pokorny called an hourlong recess.

When the parties returned, they could not agree on a solution. Hartman said he would agree to a stipulation of fact that he told Nicholson where the gun was based on information from Walker.

Tatum objected and said that by including Hartman’s and Walker’s names in the stipulation that it would still prejudice the jury against the state. She said that she offered a counter stipulation that left both Hartman and Walker’s names out of it. She said that the jury should be told that police received a tip as to where the gun was and that tip did not come from Reed.

She said without Walker being available for the trial his statements and involvement, which include his telling police he did not fire the gun, would amount to hearsay.

Pokorny agreed with the state that including Hartman’s name in the stipulation would confuse the jury but that she wasn’t so sure that Walker couldn’t be named as there is no blanket prohibition on talking about Walker at trial.

Hartman asked multiple times for Pokorny to clarify her ruling. He asked if there was a difference in the level of importance to what an attorney might be allowed to testify to. Pokorny said “yes” that it would be a different case if Hartman were testifying about a small factual issue, but the location of the firearm alleged to have been used was no small thing.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Judge Sally Pokorny at a hearing for Derrick Del Reed on Feb. 16, 2024, in Douglas County District Court. Reed is charged with first degree murder in connection with the shooting death of Kamarjay Shaw.

“This is not just a formality; it is a major issue in a murder case,” Pokorny said.

With neither side budging on whether the information should be presented to the jury with Hartman’s and Walker’s names attached, the parties agreed to table the issue over the weekend and try to work it out among themselves. Pokorny scheduled a hearing for Wednesday for the parties to tell the court what, if any, agreement could be made or whether or not Hartman would ask to withdraw from the case.

Reed is being held at the Douglas County Jail on a $500,000 bond and is scheduled for trial on March 4.

More coverage: Derrick Del Reed

Feb 16, 2024: Jury won’t be sequestered in trial for Lawrence teen accused of murdering 14-year-old; gunshot residue can be admitted, judge rules

Jan. 04, 2024: Lawrence police seek man suspected of obstruction in connection with 14-year-old’s shooting death in 2023

Nov. 09, 2023: Trial delayed in teen murder case while defense waits on gunshot residue report

Oct. 18, 2023: Audit: 1,520 attorney-client privileged calls were accidentally recorded by Douglas County Jail phone system, but only 7 were ever accessed; no malicious intent found

Oct. 04, 2023: Defense wants profile picture of 14-year-old homicide victim pointing gun admitted as evidence in murder case, along with his history of gun-crime charges; he also seeks immunity for witnesses

Sept. 27, 2023: Teen facing contempt and possibly felony criminal threat charges after allegedly posting recording of court proceeding online in murder case

Sept. 15, 2023: Relative of slain 14-year-old calls for FBI to investigate Lawrence shooting as a federal hate crime

Sept. 14, 2023: In hearing for teen murder case, lieutenant testifies that privileged calls between inmates and attorneys have been improperly recorded; prosecutor has discussed case online using profane pseudonym

Sept. 01, 2023: Lawrence teen ordered to stand trial on first-degree murder charge in 14-year-old’s shooting death

Aug. 14, 2023: Witness testifies about seeing 14-year-old friend shot; Snapchat messages show defendant repeatedly using N-word, threatening violence

Aug. 09, 2023: Judge orders hearing for Lawrence teen accused of killing another teen to be open to the public but with restrictions

July 19, 2023: Two girls hear felony charges against them in connection with teen’s murder case

July 18, 2023: $500K bond set for teen who will be tried as an adult in connection with shooting death of 14-year-old boy

July 10, 2023: Teen accused of killing another teen is not entitled to immunity from prosecution, judge rules; he’ll stand trial as an adult

July 07, 2023: Douglas County judge limits next hearing to YouTube broadcast in teen murder case after court security describes the last hearing as a scene of ‘chaos’

June 26, 2023: Lawrence man charged with aiding defendant in teen homicide is taken into custody in another case, held on a $25,000 bond

June 12, 2023: State files felony obstruction charges against 4 girls in connection with teen who is accused of shooting another teen to death

June 09, 2023: Lawrence man charged with obstruction for allegedly aiding teen who is accused of shooting another teen to death

June 02, 2023: Judge clears courtroom after disturbances, outbursts in teen’s self-defense hearing

April 20, 2023: Stand-your-ground hearing delayed for Lawrence teen charged with killing 14-year-old boy

April 12, 2023: Douglas County judge orders prosecutors to hand over police video interviews in fatal teen shooting case; state says it has provided what is required and more

April 03, 2023: Arrest affidavit sealed in case of 17-year-old accused of murdering 14-year-old Lawrence boy

March 23, 2023: Police have increased presence at Lawrence High School following weekend homicide that involved two former students

March 21, 2023: Lawrence 17-year-old plans to argue self-defense in 14-year-old’s fatal shooting, attorney says

March 20, 2023: UPDATE: Teen charged with first-degree murder in death of 14-year-old

March 19, 2023: UPDATE: 17-year-old turns self in after fatal shooting of Lawrence teen


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