GRAND RAPIDS (WWJ/AP) – A memorial service is being planned for a 9-year-old boy who was fatally stabbed at a western Michigan playground.
Stroo Funeral Home says the service for Michael “Connor” Verkerke will be held at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at Cornerstone Church near Grand Rapids.
Verkerke died last Monday after being repeatedly stabbed while playing with friends near his home at the Pinewood Village Mobile Home Park in Kentwood, near Grand Rapids.
A 12-year-old boy is accused of fatally stabbing Michael Connor Verkerke in Kentwood, near Grand Rapids, last Monday. A day later, 12-year-old Jamarion Lawhorn pleaded not guilty to an open murder charge in juvenile court.
Lawhorn is designated as an adult in the juvenile court system, which would allow the boy, if convicted, to be sentenced as a juvenile and then as an adult once he turns 21, according to Chris Becker, Kent County’s chief assistant prosecutor.
WWJ is identifying Lawhorn, who turned 12 in March, because he is charged as an adult.
According to police, Verkerke was playing with his 7-year-old brother, his 9-year-old best friend and 12-year-old Jamarion Lawhorn around 6 p.m. Monday when the older boy pulled a knife and repeatedly stabbed Verkerke in the back.
Verkerke ran to his home and collapsed, bleeding on the porch, while Lawhorn went to a neighbor’s home nearby to call police and turn himself in. Verkerke died a short time later at a hospital.
Lawhorn has been described as behaving “very calmly” after the stabbing. Witnesses said the boy mentioned that he was upset because nobody loved him, and that he had taken multiple pills earlier in the day.
According to the delinquency petition filed in Kent County Circuit Court, Lawhorn told investigators he stabbed Verkerke because he wanted to go to jail. Lawhorn said he is “bad and always does stupid things,” and that he thought he’d be killed “for doing something like this,” according to The Grand Rapids Press.
Lawhorn said he didn’t know how many times he stabbed Verkerke, who he had never seen before that day. He initially said he wasn’t concerned for the victim, then said he was concerned because “it made him feel stupid,” an investigator wrote.
Lawhorn also told police he would get mocked at school for getting in trouble, and be called “dumb” and “black.”
Boekeloo told a court referee he may seek a mental evaluation to determine if Lawhorn is competent to stand trial. The boy was ordered held until an Aug. 13 preliminary hearing.
Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Laura Clifton said she believes Lawhorn is the youngest defendant in Kent County charged with open murder.
A online fundraiser has been established to help Verkerke’s family with expenses. As of Saturday, more than $22,000 had been raised. To donate, click here.
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