A nine-year-old boy is dead after the fatal stabbing at a playground by a 12-year-old. After Michael “Conner” Verkerke was stabbed repeatedly at the Pinebrook Village mobile home park in Kentwood, Michigan he ran home and collapsed on his porch. He was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. The child responsible left the playground after the stabbing and called police to turn himself in. Should this 12-year-old kid be tried as an adult?
Glen Stacey, a resident of the area, said the 12-year-old boy, Jamarion Lawhorn, approached him after the attack and asked to use his cell phone. Stacey said the preteen was very calm after the stabbing and showed no signs of hostility.
I gave him my phone and I heard him tell the 911 operator, ‘I just stabbed someone. Come and get me. I want to die.’ It was just a sad situation.
He reportedly said Lawhorn told him he was upset because no one loved him and he had taken several pills earlier that day. When police arrived on the scene they went towards the victim to help aid when Lawhorn yelled out to them, “I’m right here, you are going the wrong way.” Stacey said the boy walked towards the police with outstretched hands as if he was ready to be handcuffed.
A neighbor named Barb Poelman was sitting on her deck when she heard the kids running across the front screaming; Michael was running with them. A little later the 60-year-old said she heard Michael’s distraught mother laying on the grass crying and yelling for the ambulance. Poelman said initially it appeared the kids were just playing until she saw the boy laid out on the porch bleeding.
Thomas Killen, Kentwood Police Chief, said witnesses saw four children playing when out of nowhere the older kid pulled a knife out of the dirt and started stabbing Michael in the back. Killen said the motive for the attack is still unclear and he is not certain if all of the boys knew each other.
Tiffany Armijo, the mother of one of the boys, said Michael was playing with his brother and her son before he was attacked. He lived in the mobile home park with his two siblings. Tiffany’s voice started to crack as she continued,
Michael was a good kid and my son’s best friend. They always played together, he was at my house nearly every day but I have never seen the 12-year-old before.
According to Defense attorney Charles Boekeloo, he entered a not-guilty plea on the boy’s behalf during the hearing on Tuesday. Boekeloo added, he may seek a mental evaluation in order to determine if the boy is competent to stand trial. Lawhorn was evaluated at a hospital following the attack and was then ordered to Kent County Juvenile Detention Center where he is being held until his preliminary hearing scheduled for August 13.
On Wednesday night a candlelight visual was held to celebrate Michael’s memory. About 100 people gathered around the deadly attack at the Pinebrook Village Mobile Home Park. The community has shown great support by joining together to help Michael’s family pay for his funeral. A Go Fund Me page which was set up had raised more than $13,000 from 321 people in 24 hours.
Jim Sterns, Michael’s great uncle, said the horrible incident has left the family completely numb. The top priority for the family is to the mental health of Michael’s siblings. Sterns said they are also concerned about Lawhorn’s family.
Even though we’re dealing with a different type of pain, they will be dealing with a similar pain every day for the rest of their lives. That’s not to be taken lightly.
Nine-year-old Michael “Conner” Verkerke is dead after being fatally stabbed by Jamarion Lawhorn in the neighborhood playground. Lawhorn is designated an adult in the juvenile court system. The preteen, who appeared in court on Tuesday to face murder charges, trembled and sobbed as his mother rubbed his back and wiped his tears in efforts to comfort him. If he is convicted, after serving as a juvenile he could then finish his sentence in an adult facility. The question remains, “Should this 12-year-old playground killer be tried as an adult?”
Opinion by: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)