May 27, 2018
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Boy, 12, charged with killing 9-year-old at Michigan playground

By Reuters

A 12-year-old western Michigan boy has been charged as an adult in the stabbing death of a 9-year-old boy at a mobile home park playground, police said on Tuesday.

Michael Conner Verkerke, 9, was playing with three other children at the Kentwood, Michigan, playground at about 6 p.m. on Monday when the oldest of them, Jamarion Lawhorn, 12, allegedly pulled a knife and repeatedly stabbed Verkerke in the back, Kentwood police said.

The victim ran to his home at the mobile home park, collapsed on his porch and was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he died late Monday evening, police said.

Lawhorn, who lives in a neighborhood near the mobile home park, went to a nearby residence, called police and turned himself in, Kentwood Police Chief Thomas Hillen told Reuters.

The boy was taken to a juvenile detention facility after being evaluated at a hospital, police said.

Lawhorn is being charged as an adult within the juvenile court system. This means that he could, if convicted, receive a “blended sentence” from a judge, combining a juvenile and an adult sentence, according to Kent County chief assistant prosecutor Chris Becker.

He said Lawhorn is charged with “open murder,” meaning prosecutors have not yet determined whether it is first degree murder or some lesser degree.

Hillen said there was no known motive and he declined to speculate on what might have led the child to call police on himself.

The suspect apparently did not know the other children, who included the victim’s 7-year-old brother and another 9-year-old boy the siblings knew, Hillen said.

A preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 13 before Judge G. Patrick Hillary. A competency hearing will be scheduled soon, police said.

Kentwood is a community of about 49,000 residents about 150 miles northwest of Detroit.


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