16-year-old Arlington Lamar HS shooter to be sentenced for capital murder

A Tarrant County juvenile court jury is set to begin deciding the punishment for an Arlington Lamar High School student accused of killing a classmate at school.

For the first time, a possible motive has been revealed for the deadly school shooting at Arlington Lamar High School last March.

Testimony in court alleges the boy was retaliating for a sexual assault attack in school. But police testimony also says that claim was unfounded.

Ja’Shawn Poirier was shot to death outside the school back in March. A second student was hit in the face by shrapnel.

Tuesday, the teenager on trial was given the option to wear civilian clothes but chose to stay in his beige corrections uniform.

Ja’Shawn Poirier

The accused gunman, who recently turned 16, is being tried in juvenile court. His name is not being released because he is a minor.

After jurors were selected on Monday, he pleaded "true" to capital murder, which is similar to a guilty plea.

Arlington Police Corporal Ford Lyman's body camera captured all the commotion at the school on March 20. He and a two-week trainee with him were first on scene. It was shown in court on Tuesday.

Lyman took over CPR on Ja’Shawn from a school security guard, but he didn’t make it.

"Myself and another officer, we take turns on the chest compressions because it does get tiring at times," he said. "It’s a constant you know pumping of the chest."

The corporal then questioned another victim, a 16-year-old girl who was hit in the face by shrapnel, as she was being treated at the scene. She was the first to testify.

"That morning, I was sitting on the bench on the elevated platform kind of curled into myself because it was a cold morning," she recalled.

Surveillance images show students were looking around with the first shot and then scrambling in the morning darkness for cover as a second shot sounded. 

"I didn't go to school at all for about a week and a half, and thunder is now something that puts me on edge and wakes me up in the middle of the night just because it sounds so much like a gunshot," the girl said.

Arlington Police Officer Benjamin Poirier recovered the shooter's backpack with two shotgun shells inside and the pistol grip shotgun used in the violence. It was shown to the jury. 

The 16-year-old who was killed had moved to North Texas from Michigan.

The officer with the same last name is also from Michigan, and he and the victim have birthdays just days apart. Learning that touched his emotions.

"That definitely made me, I don’t know how to say it other than kind of spooked. Like this was a weird way of the universe connecting, but that’s how I felt," the officer said.

Assistant Principal Teri Williams told jurors the juvenile had over 100 unexcused absences that school year. IT was his first year at Lamar. Each missed class counts as an absence. 

Williams said that he had two physical conflicts following an October 19 fight.

The boy’s attorney, Lisa Herrick, pressed on the absences.

"And those appear to really start after the fight on October 19th, correct?" Herrick asked.

"Correct," Williams said.

Psychologist Dr. Monica Jeter performed a mental evaluation on the teenager and also took the stand as a prosecution witness.

"His high-risk factors were exposure to violence in the home, stress and poor coping and low interest in school," she said.

Jeter said the teen spoke about his complicated relationship with his father.

The teenager’s father currently sits in federal prison after pleading guilty to illegally possessing firearms as a felon. 

The psychologist also testified the teen claimed he was sexually assaulted by multiple students in a school bathroom in October 2022 about five months prior to the shooting. 

Detective Vanessa Barnes watched his forensic interview testifying she could not corroborate much of what he told her, including the boys he identified as his attackers from a school yearbook.

"Do you remember telling the prosecutors you believe something did happen? You just don't think it was with the people he identified?" Herrick asked.

"Correct," the detective said.

The juvenile claimed he told a teacher what happened, but that teacher reportedly said he told her nothing.

Prosecutor Lloyd Whelchel called him a liar. 

"Falsely accused two young boys of a heinous crime?" he asked.

"That is correct," Barnes said.

Jurors also saw evidence of a shotgun shell that was not fired but ejected from the gun.

The state suggested the shooter tried to fire other rounds and would have continued. 

The trial to assess punishment between probation and 40 years is expected to wrap up on Thursday.

"It just depends on what were the circumstances. What were the aggravating factors? What were the mitigating factors and then after the offense happened, were you remorseful? You know, have you learned your lesson? Have you proven to the people at the juvenile facility that you're ready to change your life because again at the end of the day, we're still talking about a kid," said Health Harris, an attorney who is not involved in the case but was asked to provide some perspective.


Arlington Lamar HS shooting trial: Jury selection begins for teen's trial

16-year-old Ja'Shawn Poirier was shot and killed on March 20 as the school day was about to begin.

Because the gunman is a juvenile, the sentencing will be different.

Harris said there would be another hearing when he turns 19 to determine if he should be released or moved to an adult prison.

"It's going to be based on his performance and how well he's done on the rehabilitation track," Harris said.

After the shooting, police found weapons in an apartment the teen shared with his father.


Father of accused Lamar High School shooter sentenced for gun crimes

The father of an accused school shooter in Arlington received six and a half years in federal prison for gun crimes.

The trial is expected to take most of the week.