Boy convicted in playground killing is suicidal

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.  —  A year after being sentenced for fatally stabbing a boy, Kent County's youngest convicted killer is being described as suicidal.

Two years ago, 14-year-old Jamarion Lawhorn stabbed 9-year-old Connor Verkerke on a playground in Kentwood. At the time, Lawhorn was 12.

The morning of the attack, Lawhorn's stepfather promised him a beating for using a computer without permission, according to 2015 testimony from Dr. Priya K. Rao, a clinical psychologist hired by Lawhorn's defense team to evaluate his mental state.

Lawhorn initially was going to use the knife on himself, he told Rao.

"He said he thought he would hurt himself but that would hurt too much so maybe he should poke another kid so he would be arrested by police,'' Rao testified. "He wanted to die, he wanted to end it all.''

His abject fear was evident in a 911 call in which Lawhorn admits to the stabbing and urges police to "hurry up'' and get him before his stepfather, Bernard Harrold, got home, Rao testified in 2015.

Lawhorn appeared in court for a delinquency review on Nov. 10, to shed light on his current mental health. His case manager, Melissa Emmorey, says that he has been struggling with depression.

He was sentenced to live in a juvenile home until a determination is made regarding a potential adult sentence when he turns 21. He was sent to the Muskegon River Youth Home in Evart, about 70 miles north of Grand Rapids.

Emmorey says the court saw improvement in Lawhorn when his mother, Anita Lawhorn, was making attempts to contact and visit him. Anita Lawhorn served jail time for child abuse following the arrest of her son.

According to court officials, Lawhorn is still processing the seriousness of the crime committed and is plagued with the idea that because he took a life he doesn't deserve to live.

The judge proceeding over the review did not court order Anita Lawhorn to see her son, but instead, wants her to visit him on her own accord.

Lawhorn's case will be reviewed again in another six months.


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