On day two of teen’s murder trial, boy says he’s ‘99% sure’ he saw the defendant fire the gun

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Derrick Del Reed is pictured during his murder trial on March 7, 2024, in Douglas County District Court.

On the second day of testimony in a Lawrence teenager’s trial in a fatal shooting, another teen said he was “99% sure” he saw the defendant fire the gun, and a forensic pathologist said the 14-year-old victim was hit in the heart.

The teenager on trial in Douglas County District Court is 18-year-old Derrick Del Reed, who is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Kamarjay Shaw, 14, of Lawrence, on March 18, 2023.

The state’s main witness on Thursday was a 17-year-old boy who was there when the shooting happened. He said that on that day, he was with Shaw and five other friends at an apartment complex, and one of the friends got a call from a girl saying that Reed wanted to fight them.

The boy was familiar with Reed, he said, because they had attended Lawrence High School together. Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum asked the boy what his relationship with Reed was like, and he said “it wasn’t the best.”

The boy testified that he was eager to fight Reed, because Reed and his group of friends had often told people that Shaw’s group was too afraid to fight Reed and his friends in one-on-one fistfights.

On the way to Reed’s house, the boy said, the teens picked up some metal poles from outside the apartment complex. He said that was in case Reed was planning something that would require them to defend themselves.

When they got to Reed’s house, the boy testified, Reed leaned halfway out of his front door and said, “Come to the back.”

The boy said Reed wasn’t willing to meet them in the street, and none of his own friend group wanted to go into Reed’s backyard. The reason, he said, is that Kansas is a “stand your ground” state, and they were afraid Reed “would have a lot more right to do something” if there were a fight.

He and his friends began banging their poles on the ground and yelling at Reed, the boy testified, but when it was clear the fight wasn’t going to happen, they walked away.

The boy said he was trailing behind his friends when he saw Reed come out of the house with a gun and fire one round. After the first shot, the boy said he turned and ran away and then heard a second shot.

• • •

In questioning the boy, the state and the defense asked about how sure he was that Reed was the one firing the gun — especially given that the boy wasn’t wearing his glasses that day.

They also asked whether he thought the shots could have been fired by another person the boy knew — a man named Owen Walker.

As the Journal-World has reported, Reed’s attorney, Mark Hartman, has pointed to a statement from a neighbor and claimed that her description of the shooter seemed to match Walker. The neighbor told police that she saw a light-skinned African American man with facial hair holding a gun and firing it at the teens.

Walker, 19, gave statements to police immediately after the shooting in which he said Reed was the shooter, as the Journal-World reported. He was subsequently charged with felony obstruction and interference with law enforcement, and police have been unable to locate him for months.

The boy testified that he had known Walker since middle school, and that the relationship between them was neutral. At the distance he was from Reed’s house, he said he would still have known the difference between Reed and Walker even without his glasses on.

At first, the boy said that “I knew it was somebody white; I saw a white guy shooting.”

“Did not having your glasses impair you?” Tatum asked.

“My glasses don’t impair me from telling color and telling the difference between Walker and Reed,” the teen said.

Tatum then asked if he knew who fired the gun. The boy said “I think so,” and then said he was “99% sure” that he saw Reed with a gun and that Reed fired it.

“I saw his skin, his hair, his little tattoo,” the boy said. He also said he never saw Walker that day.

But Hartman said the boy’s testimony didn’t match with his account from the day of the shooting. He said the boy told police that he didn’t see who fired the gun and that it was a drive-by shooting.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Attorney Mark Hartman is pictured during a trial on March 7, 2024, in Douglas County District Court.

Hartman asked why the story had changed and whether the boy was really certain of what he saw: “Why only 99%?”

“I didn’t want to say the wrong thing. I didn’t know what I saw,” the boy replied. “I was hysterical.”

The boy also said he hadn’t wanted to cooperate in the case — in fact, he said earlier that he didn’t even want to testify on Thursday because he’d already testified twice at previous hearings and had since moved out of state.

Tatum asked why he didn’t want to cooperate with the investigation at first. The boy said he was so angry with Reed at the time that he didn’t even want Reed in jail, going through the criminal justice process.

“For the first few weeks,” he said, “I wanted him to be in the same place KJ (Shaw) was: in the ground.”

• • •

Before the boy testified, the jury heard from Chris Geffre, a forensic pathologist who conducted Shaw’s autopsy. Geffre said he was based out of Nashville, Tennessee, but that he had contracts for work from the Kansas City area, including Douglas County.

He showed the court two photos from the autopsy. The first was a picture of Shaw from behind, where a small piece of white tape marked a spot on Shaw’s upper rib cage. The second was a close-up of the wound where the bullet entered Shaw’s body, Geffre said.

He described the bullet’s path through Shaw’s body — that it entered Shaw’s back, nicked the bottom of Shaw’s lung, then traveled upward and struck Shaw’s heart. From there, he said, the bullet entered Shaw’s aorta and traveled down through his bloodstream before coming to rest in an artery in his pelvis.

Tatum asked whether Shaw could have survived that type of injury.

Geffre said it would only have been possible with emergency surgery to close the hole in Shaw’s heart. He said first aid from a paramedic wouldn’t have been enough to save Shaw.

Multiple other witnesses testified on Thursday, including other teens who were at the scene of the shooting. Each of them testified that they did not see who fired the gun and that they didn’t have a clear memory of the events.

A witness who had begun her testimony the day before, Lawrence Police Detective Kimberlee Nicholson, also returned to the stand. Hartman had questioned Nicholson on Wednesday about why she didn’t show a photo of Walker, or some kind of photo lineup, to the neighbor who described the shooter as an African American man.

Nicholson had said on Wednesday that the neighbor’s description did not match Walker — specifically, that the neighbor described the shooter as being short, while Walker was tall. She also said the police department doesn’t use lineups unless there is reason to believe the witness is very familiar with the suspect.

But on Thursday, she said the main reason she didn’t show that witness a lineup that included Walker was because police had yet to make contact with Walker at the time. She said she interviewed the neighbor about an hour after the shooting, and that Walker’s name didn’t come into play in the investigation until hours later.

Hartman also asked about whether Nicholson followed protocol for swabbing Reed and Walker to test for gunshot residue. He said the industry standard was to take samples within eight hours of a shooting.

Nicholson said Walker’s sample was taken just over eight hours after Shaw was shot, and Reed’s was collected almost a full day afterward. But she also said it was up to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s forensics lab to decide whether to accept a sample, and that the lab accepted them.

Jurors also saw a video of Reed’s sample being collected. In it, Reed asks to wait until his lawyer arrives; Nicholson tells him they can’t wait. Reed can be heard sniffling and crying as Nicholson swabs his hands and face for testing.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Derrick Del Reed, left, is pictured in a video taken the day he turned himself in on March 19, 2023, and while Lawrence Police Detective Kimberlee Nicholson prepares a gunshot residue testing kit. The video was shown during Reed’s murder trial on March 7, 2024.

After the video was shown, Senior Assistant District Attorney Ricardo Leal asked Nicholson whether Walker cried when the detective collected a sample from him.

“No,” Nicholson said.

Judge Sally Pokorny previously ruled that evidence of gunshot residue found on Reed would be admissible at trial. The results of Walker’s test have yet to be discussed in court.

The trial is set to resume on Friday and is expected to last through next week. The jury is made up of 15 people, including three alternates. Nine of them are women and six are men.

Reed is being held at the Douglas County Jail on a $500,000 bond.


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