Attorneys give closing arguments in murder trial for teen accused of killing 14-year-old

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Derrick Del Reed is pictured during his murder trial on March 11, 2024, in Douglas County District Court.

This story was updated at 7:40 p.m. Monday, March 11, 2024.

The defense and prosecution presented closing arguments Monday in the murder trial of teen defendant Derrick Del Reed, after testimony of a woman who claimed to have seen the fatal shot being fired — testimony which the prosecution attempted to discredit based on inconsistencies with video evidence.

Reed, 18, of Lawrence, is charged with one count of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of Kamarjay Shaw, 14, of Lawrence, on March 18, 2023, in the 1300 block of Maple Lane. Reed declined to testify on his own behalf.

In closing remarks, Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum pointed to a series of messages Reed sent his friends throughout the day before the shooting. She said that Reed repeatedly messaged, starting at about 8:30 a.m., that he planned to arm himself with a gun and “saw a whole lot of dead (N-words).”

“Not just once. Over and over again,” Tatum said.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum delivers closing remarks during the murder trial of Derrick Del Reed on March 11, 2024, in Douglas County District Court.

Tatum said that Reed’s friend in those messages counseled him not to consider that course of action, but Reed insisted. Tatum referenced other messages exchanged by Shaw and members of his friend group between Reed and his friends that referenced fighting, but no one ever mentions gunplay except Reed.

“He is visualizing it at 8 in the morning,” Tatum said.

Tatum said the eyewitness for the defense, a neighbor who said she saw a short black man fire the gun, was mistaken as evidenced by video surveillance that showed the location in which the woman believed the shooting happened had no one in it. Tatum also said the woman misidentified another eyewitness as the shooter.

In her testimony, the woman also described the gun as small, but when it was recovered the gun had a large clip attached to it. The woman also identified an officer who was nearly a foot taller than her as being a little taller than her, and a detective who was a few inches shorter than her as being about her height.

Tatum also called Officer Taylor Zook to the stand on Monday. He reviewed his body camera footage of his interactions with the woman, in which she describes what she saw as they are driving to the police station for a formal interview. The woman points to a light-skinned African American who is standing in a crowd of kids with police. She said that boy may have been the man she saw and if it wasn’t him, the man she saw was very similar. 

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Lawrence Police Officer Taylor Zook testifies on March 11, 2024.

In the video, Zook told the woman that the boy she had pointed out couldn’t be the shooter as he had already been questioned by police and was crying about the victim having been shot.

Senior Assistant District Attorney Ricardo Leal then recalled lead detective Kimberlee Nicholson to the stand. Nicholson said the boy the woman pointed to in that video is believed to be one of the boys in Shaw’s group, specifically a boy who said he was last in line to run away from the shooting and that he saw Reed fire the gun before turning to run away. That boy has a similar physical description to Owen Walker, the person who defense attorney Mark Hartman has said may have been the one to actually fire the gun that day.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Lawrence Police Detective Kimberlee Nicholson shows the jury at trial on March 8, 2024, the gun believed to have been used to shoot Kamarjay Shaw on March 18, 2023.

Nicholson also testified on Monday that police attempted to trace the origin of the firearm. She said they found the owner it was registered to but that man told them he had sold it in 2020. Investigators tracked down that buyer but he claimed to have sold it to another person whom he did not remember and that’s where the trail ended, Nicholson said.

Tatum said the eyewitness the woman identified had named Reed as the shooter and that witness was much closer to Reed when it happened as he was the last to turn and leave the scene amongst Shaw’s friends.

“He was staring down the barrel very literally,” Tatum said.

In closing remarks, Tatum played video where the boy could be heard saying “I’m still alive,” as he ran from the shooter.

Tatum added that beyond the eyewitness, there was forensic evidence including gunshot residue found on Reed.

Hartman then gave an emotional plea to the jury saying that the jury must be absolutely sure of their verdict or else they would have to “live the rest of their lives wondering if they convicted the wrong teenager.”

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Defense attorney Mark Hartman delivers closing remarks during the murder trial of Derrick Del Reed on March 11, 2024, in Douglas County District Court.

He said the alternate suspect, Walker, should be who the jury thinks about.

“Where is Owen Walker? No one knows. Owen Walker is on the run. Derrick Reed turned himself in,” Hartman said. He said the messages Reed sent to his friends don’t prove anything except that Reed talks a big game but in one message Reed said he “needed to re-up so he can start saving for a pole,” which Hartman said was evident that Reed didn’t own a firearm the day of the shooting.

Hartman said that the gunshot residue could have landed on Reed while he was at the police station and that the bullet found inside Shaw’s body showed evidence of having ricocheted.

Hartman said that it isn’t clear how the gun went off the day of the shooting and for the shooter to have hit Shaw at 190 feet it would have taken some sort of sharp shooter or some kind of accident.

“What I hope would be some sort of warning shots,” Hartman said.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Judge Sally Pokorny instructs the jury during Derrick Del Reed’s murder trial on March 11, 2024, in Douglas County District Court.

The jury was given instructions by Judge Sally Pokorny to consider multiple charges against Reed when rendering a verdict. The jury was given instructions for first-degree murder, an intentional premeditated act; second-degree murder, an intentional act without premeditation; second-degree murder as a reckless act in disregard of human life; voluntary manslaughter that resulted from a sudden quarrel; and involuntary manslaughter as a reckless act that consciously disregards an unjustifiable risk to human life.

Tatum noted in her closing remarks that the jury was not given the instruction for self-defense as it was clear the victim and his friends were leaving the area when the shots were fired. 

The jury is set to begin deliberations at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Derrick Del Reed, right, and his defense attorney Mark Hartman during Reed’s murder trial on March 11, 2024, in Douglas County District Court.


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