Michigan Boy, 12, Faces ‘Open Murder’ Charge Over Stabbing Of 9-Year-Old Playmate, Motive Remains Unclear

 @suman09s.varandani@ibtimes.com on August 06 2014 5:29 AM
playground in Michigan
Police stand in the playground behind Buell elementary school, the scene of an early morning fatal shooting Feb. 29, in Mt. Morris, Michigan. A six year old female student was fatally shot in a classroom allegedly by a male classmate who brought a gun to school. Reuters

A 12-year-old boy was charged with murder after he repeatedly stabbed a 9-year-old boy, who later succumbed to his injuries, at a playground at the Pinebrook Village mobile home park, in Kentwood, Michigan.

Michael Conner Verkerke, 9, was reportedly playing with three other friends at the park in western Michigan on Monday when Jamarion Lawhorn, 12, pulled a knife and stabbed the boy. Authorities are investigating the attack but the motive remains unclear, reports said citing police, adding that Verkerke ran home after being attacked and was rushed to a hospital where he died.

Kentwood Police Chief Thomas Hillen reportedly said that, after the stabbing, Lawhorn went to a nearby residence and called 911 to report the attack. The boy was evaluated at a hospital before being taken into custody. Hillen reportedly said that the victim’s 7-year-old brother was also at the playground, but the accused apparently did not know any of the children.

Lawhorn’s attorney reportedly said that the boy will undergo a mental evaluation to help determine if he is fit to stand trial. The boy, who has been taken to the Kent County Juvenile Detention Center, was ordered to be held until a preliminary hearing scheduled for Aug. 13.

Lawhorn, who has reportedly pleaded not guilty to an “open murder” charge in a juvenile court Tuesday, has been labeled as an adult within the juvenile court system. If convicted, the 12-year-old boy could receive a juvenile and an adult sentence.

Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Laura Clifton told Detroit Free Press via e-mail Tuesday evening that Lawhorn is being held without bond.

According to Associated Press, or AP, Susan DeGroot said that her 4-year-old grandson, Ewan Beukema, had previously played with Verkerke and the others.

"Ewan was not here and so I'm very thankful that he was not on the playground with the children at the time," DeGroot told AP on Tuesday. "But it's a tragedy for the community."

Join the Discussion