The 12-year-old Michigan boy accused of stabbing and killing a 9-year-old boy will be charged as an adult, according to Kent County chief assistant prosecutor Chris Becker.
Jamarion Lawhorn pleaded not guilty to an open murder charge in connection with the death of Michael Conner Verkerke in juvenile court on Tuesday, though the transcripts from his 911 call would suggest otherwise.
On Monday night, Lawhorn asked to borrow a phone from a man working in his yard, then told a 911 dispatcher that he’d stabbed someone.
“Hi. I just stabbed somebody,” Lawhorn said. “Please pick me up. I want to die. I don’t want to be on this Earth anymore.”
Since Lawhorn is designated as an adult in the juvenile court system, he could be sentenced as a juvenile and then as an adult at age 21.
“This route was taken because if a juvenile is charged as a juvenile in juvenile court, the judge would have no option but to discharge at the age of 21,” Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Laura said.
If Lawhorn is convicted, a judge will review his case every three months and could impose an adult sentence at any time. If no sentence is delivered by the time he turns 21, a judge must either discharge Lawhorn or determine the sentence at that time.
Defense attorney Charles Bokeloo noted that he may seek a mental evaluation to determine if Lawhorn, who is being held until a preliminary hearing on August 13, is competent to stand trial.
According to Clifton, Lawhorn is the youngest defendant ever in the history of Kent County to be charged with open murder, and one of the youngest in Michigan.
Lawhorn allegedly pulled out a knife buried in the playground sand on Monday evening and repeatedly stabbed 9-year-old Verkerke in the back. Verkerke ran home and collapsed on his porch, where his mother found him and began screaming.
Lawhorn called 911, and when police arrived he directed their attention to himself, reportedly raising his hands to be handcuffed.
The motive for Lawhorn’s alleged crime is still unclear.