GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The 12-year-old Michigan boy who is being charged as an adult for the stabbing death of a 9-year-old boy waived his preliminary exam and was ordered Monday to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
Prosecutors, however, said there are no plans to change the charging decision in the case.
"I do not see any reason to change the (adult) charging designation. It's a serious offense; the community needs protection," said Kent County senior attorney Vicki Seidl, who runs the juvenile division for the Kent County Prosecutor's Office. "Right now we're not going to change what we're doing."
The case involves Jamarion Lawhorn, who is accused in the stabbing death of Michael "Connor" Verkerke on a playground at the Pinebrook Village Mobile Home Park in Kentwood.
The baby-faced defendant appeared in Kent County Circuit Court Monday in handcuffs and wearing a dark blue T-shirt. His mother was in the courtroom with him seated at the defense table. She sat quietly while the judge asked her son questions.
"Do you understand that you will be tried as an adult?" Kent County Circuit Judge G. Patrick Hillary asked the boy.
"Yes," he responded quietly.
The judge later asked him, "Is it your intent to plead not guilty at this point?"
"Yes," the boy answered.
The child's mother did not speak to reporters beyond saying, "I'm so sorry for what has happened."
Jamarion's attorney, Charles Boekeloo, would not comment on the prosecutor's decision to charge his client as an adult. He said that, ideally, "I would like for him not to be charged at all," and declined to elaborate.
"This is not a typical case in any sense of the word," he said.
The competency exam is to determine two things:
• Whether the boy has the mental capacity to understand what he has been charged with and to assist in his defense.
• Did he understand and appreciate the seriousness of his actions.
If it is determined that he doesn't have the capacity to understand what is going on, the court could order him to undergo treatment to make him competent.