Jury acquits teen in shooting death of boy; DA urges calm in aftermath of not guilty verdict

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Derrick Del Reed, 18, is pictured after the not guilty verdict was read at his trial on Wednesday, March 13, 2024, in Douglas County District Court.

Updated at 4:40 p.m. Wednesday, March 13

A Douglas County jury returned a not guilty verdict on Wednesday, acquitting a Lawrence teen in connection with the shooting death of a 14-year-old boy.

Derrick Del Reed, 18, of Lawrence, had been charged with 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 was 17 at the time of the shooting but was tried as an adult, and the court had denied his motion for immunity based on self-defense, as the Journal-World reported.

The jury was given instructions to consider the first-degree murder charge along with second-degree murder, both intentional and reckless, as well as manslaughter, both voluntary and involuntary.

After deliberating for about a day and a half, the jury returned the not guilty verdict.

About a dozen law enforcement officers were in the courtroom before the verdict was read — and more were in the hall and outside the building, as had been the case throughout the trial as tensions remained high between Shaw’s and Reed’s social groups. Judge Sally Pokorny warned the spectators to remain silent and not to get emotional or make a scene, and that if they felt like they were going to get emotional they needed to leave.

She said the jury had worked hard and that neither they nor their work should be criticized.

“Everyone says they know what justice is and what justice should be, but we must accept their verdict,” Pokorny said, noting that the appellate process was the appropriate venue for dissatisfaction with legal findings.

Acquittals, however, cannot generally be appealed without placing the defendant in double jeopardy.

Pokorny read the verdict very quickly, not even requiring the usual formality of asking the defendant to stand. Reed sat with his eyes closed, and both he and his attorney, Mark Hartman, cried as the words “not guilty” were spoken.

Immediately after Pokorny read the verdict, spectators stormed out of the courtroom and were heard shouting in the hallway about racial injustice and white jurors. Outside of the courthouse, more than a dozen sheriff’s deputies stood watch as groups of people screamed and argued. One woman said another woman in a car couldn’t breathe, and an ambulance arrived to take her away.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

A deputy carries an automated external defibrillator to a person who was having difficulty breathing outside the courthouse where Derrick Reed’s trial took place. Reed was acquitted on Wednesday, March 13, 2024.

A woman outside the courthouse was heard shouting at deputies: “Y’all are f-cked. Remember the city after Tiger Dowdell? The whole city on lockdown? Y’all are f-cked!”

Shaw’s mother, whose maiden name is Barbara Dowdell, is related to Tiger Dowdell, who was killed at age 19 by a police officer in Lawrence in 1970.

Barbara Dowdell declined to comment. She and her family and friends visited Shaw’s grave at a Lawrence cemetery after the verdict.

Before the verdict was announced, Shaw’s family had gathered in the hallway of the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, where one woman led a prayer for “the highest-level conviction possible.”

photo by: Jawaun Johnson’s GoFundMe

Kamarjay Shaw, center, was killed in a shooting on March 18, 2023.

The jury that acquitted Reed consisted of what appeared to be all white people. As the Journal-World reported, during jury selection one prospective juror pointed out that she was the only Black person in the room, to which Reed’s attorney noted that the jury pool was selected at random from Douglas County residents who have a valid ID and are registered to vote.

As the wave of people exited the courtroom immediately after the verdict, Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez was close on their heels, a look of dismay on her face. This was the latest high-profile criminal case that ended in acquittal for her office; others included a case where a former police officer was acquitted of rape and a case involving a man who was acquitted of trying to shoot his ex-girlfriend’s new partner.

In the parking lot after the verdict, Shaw’s supporters waited for more than an hour to see the now-free Reed and the jury come out of the building. “Where’s he at?” a young woman shouted to law enforcement personnel at the scene. She also shouted, “The jury has to walk out sometime!”

photo by: Screenshot from the District Attorney’s Facebook page

Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez released a video statement urging residents to be cautious after a jury returned a not guilty verdict on March 13, 2024, for Derrick Del Reed, 18.

Later in the afternoon, Valdez posted a video comment on social media that urged residents to remain calm and keep their emotions in check.

“There is a lot of emotion that is currently being felt throughout the community,” Valdez said of the verdict. “I would urge restraint and I would urge people to be cautious and sort of take a step back and take care of each other and take care of people that you love.

“We have to have faith in our criminal justice system. It is the American system. It is what we have. It is all that we have, so I ask that all of you please keep that faith. I do every day. My office does every day. I know our law enforcement does every day. I ask that you take care of each other and you please refrain from anything that may cause harm to others as a result of the emotion that all of us are feeling today here in Douglas County.”

In her recorded statement, Valdez did not address any other aspect of the case or the verdict.

Reed’s family declined to comment about the verdict. Reed’s attorney said he had “no comment at this time.”

Evidence in the trial began on March 6, and throughout the course of the trial the state, represented by Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum and Senior Assistant District Attorney Ricardo Leal, argued that Reed and his friends had a long-standing feud with Shaw and his friends. On the day of the shooting, Reed had messaged a large group of his friends that he was tired of the trouble between the groups and that he planned to resolve the dispute by buying and using a gun.

A 17-year-old boy and close friend of Shaw’s testified that he and Shaw’s group were eager to fight Reed’s friend group in one-on-one fistfights. The boy said Shaw and six of his friends went to Reed’s house and tried to get him to meet them in the street for a fight but Reed refused, and when the group went to leave, the boy said Reed retrieved a gun and fired on them. The 17-year-old could be heard on a surveillance video from a neighbor’s house yelling “I’m still alive” just after two gunshots are heard.

Shaw was hit in the back, where the bullet nicked one of his lungs, then struck his heart.

After the shooting a video showed Reed get into his blue Chrysler 300 and speed away. The Lawrence police department’s lead detective in the case, Kimberlee Nicholson, testified that Reed hid the gun used to kill Shaw in a bush a few blocks from the shooting and hid his car in eastern Lawrence before changing clothes and evading police for about a day. Reed turned himself in the day after the shooting after police released his picture on social media and asked for the public’s help in finding him.

Hartman argued that another man on the scene, Owen Gage Walker, 19, of Lawrence, may have been the real shooter. Nicholson testified that she interviewed Walker within hours of the shooting and he was ruled out as a suspect; he was, however, charged with felony obstruction in connection with the case and is currently wanted by the authorities.

In addition to the many sheriff’s deputies already at the courthouse, Sgt. Drew Fennelly with the Lawrence Police Department told the Journal-World Wednesday afternoon that extra police officers had been brought in for the reading of the verdict.

“We have been coordinating with the Sheriff’s Office throughout the trial,” he said in an email, “and are in close communication with them on ensuring the safety of the public. We recognize the intense emotion that can be brought on by the court process, and will continue to work closely with our public safety partners to not only respond, but work proactively to ensure the safety of the public.”

George Diepenbrock, a spokesman with the sheriff’s office, said approximately 25 deputies were at the courthouse for security each day of the trial.

“Generally each day for the trial included: all deputies assigned to the two patrol shifts who were not scheduled to work that day; regular court security personnel; and, we also pulled available deputies from Investigations, Corrections, Training and Civil Process,” he said in an email.

According to the Douglas County Jail booking log, Reed, who had been in custody for about a year on a $500,000 bond, was freed from jail around 1:40 p.m. Wednesday.

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.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Defense attorney Mark Hartman talks to the prosecution during the murder trial of Derrick Del Reed on March 11, 2024, in Douglas County District Court.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

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

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Derrick Del Reed, 18, is pictured after the not guilty verdict was read at his trial on Wednesday, March 13, 2024, in Douglas County District Court.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

A memorial for Kamarjay Shaw is pictured at 13th and Maple streets on March 13, 2024.

More coverage: Derrick Del Reed

March 12, 2024: After a day of deliberations, jury has yet to reach a verdict in teen’s murder trial

March 11, 2024: Attorneys give closing arguments in murder trial for teen accused of killing 14-year-old

March 8, 2024: At trial, forensic experts say teen accused of murder tested positive for gunshot residue

March 7, 2024: On day two of teen’s murder trial, boy says he’s ‘99% sure’ he saw the defendant fire the gun

March 6, 2024: Video of dying boy shown to jury as teenager’s murder trial begins; defense says evidence will show there was another shooter

March 5, 2024: Of the 6 people charged with obstruction in teen’s shooting death, 2 have been convicted; one was ordered not to be part of a gang

March 4, 2024: Jury selection begins for teen charged with murder in shooting death of 14-year-old

Feb 28, 2024: Trial of teen accused of killing 14-year-old to begin next week after parties reach agreement on gun evidence

Feb. 26, 2024: Questions about how much the jury can hear about alleged murder weapon may delay trial in shooting of teen

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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