13-year-old to stand trial for murder starting this week

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The trial for the youngest person ever charged with murder in Kent County will begin this week.

Jury selection beings Monday morning in the trial of Jamarion Lawhorn, 13.

Jamarion was 12 in August 2014 when he stabbed and killed 9-year-old Connor Verkerke on a Kentwood playground, authorities say. Police say he admitted to the stabbing and said he did it because he wanted to die himself.

An undated courtesy photo of Connor Verkerke. (Photo: WOOD-TV)
An undated courtesy photo of Connor Verkerke. (Photo: WOOD-TV)

In May, a judge ruled that Jamarion is competent to stand trial.

A state investigation found Jamarion and his siblings had been living in poor conditions and that Children’s Protective Services should have removed them from their parents’ care well before the stabbing. The case led to statewide changes in CPS.

Jamarion’s mother, Anita Lawhorn, and stepfather, Bernard Harrold, were both charged with child abuse for allegedly beating Jamarion with an electrical cord. Harrold pleaded guilty in July to third-degree child abuse and is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Anita Lawhorn is still facing child abuse charges and is scheduled to go on trial starting Sept. 14. The trial date has been rescheduled several times because her lawyer plans on calling Jamarion as a witness and wants his trial to be over first.

Anita Lawhorn previously pleaded guilty to a welfare fraud charge in May and was sentenced in July to community service, fines and fees along with restitution.

Her other children were removed from her care following Jamarion’s arrest.

Jamarion is being charged as an adult, but his trial will be held in family court.

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