Psych evaluation ordered for 12-year-old accused in playground stabbing

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — Jamarion Lawhorn will undergo a mental competency exam to determine if he is fit to stand trial in the murder of a 9-year-old on a Kentwood playground.

“There is nothing typical about this case,” Lawhorn’s attorney, Charles Boekeloo, told reporters following Monday’s court appearance.

Lawhorn, 12, waived his right to a preliminary hearing Monday.   He has been charged as an adult with open murder in the stabbing death of Connor Verkerke that took place Monday Aug. 8.

“At this point we didn’t see any evidence or reason to change designation we have, it’s a serious offense, the community needs protecting,” said Vicki Seidl, assistant Kent  County prosecutor.

Lawhorn’s mother, Anita, sat next to him during Monday’s hearing and told reporters beforehand “I’m so sorry, so sorry about all of this and so sorry for the Verkerke family.” She did not want to go on camera or provide any further comment about the situation.

While competency exams are standard when dealing with charges like this, with Lawhorn being so young the test will also look at whether or not he understands how he can assist in his own defense, according to Seidl.

Lawhorn is the youngest person ever to be charged in Kent County, and if found guilty could be held in a juvenile facility until he is 21. A judge could later decide whether to send him to prison, but because of this age Lawhorn is guaranteed a chance at parole.

It’s unclear when the evaluations will be completed or when he will be back in court but competency exams can generally take months to complete.