Connor Verkerke playground slaying: 9-year-old victim was attacked after falling off slide, records show — (The Grand Rapids Press)

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The Grand Rapids Press

By Heidi Fenton | hfenton@mlive.com 

October 10, 2014

Connor Verkerke playground slaying: 9-year-old victim was attacked after falling off slide, records show | MLive.com

KENTWOOD, MI — Newly-released court documents are shedding light on what happened in the moments before 9-year-old Connor Verkerke was fatally stabbed by another child on a playground in August.

They show Connor allegedly was attacked by a 12-year-old after the younger boy fell off a slide.

Detectives have said there did not appear to be any confrontation or argument between Jamarion Lawhorn, 12, and Connor before the Aug. 4 assault.  The question has remained: Why was Connor targeted for attack?

Jamarion allegedly has told investigators that he was at his Kentwood home when he ingested some amount of medication – “little red pills he found” – then took a knife and walked to Pinebrook Village, about a block away, with the intent of stabbing someone.

“He did not know who,” the detective told a judge, for the purpose of requesting permission to search Jamarion’s home after the stabbing. These search warrant documents were recently made public in Kentwood District Court.

Jamarion found Connor and Connor’s 7-year-old brother, along with another 9-year-old boy, on a playground just inside the mobile home park entrance. He did not know them. The four played for about 20 minutes.

After that time, Connor attempted to climb up a slide, but slipped and fell to the ground, documents show.

It was then Jamarion allegedly said he acted.

“Jamarion stated that he approached Connor from his rear,” the detective said, according to court documents. “While (Connor) was on the ground, Jamarion took out a knife and stabbed Connor multiple times; including at least once in the back and once in the arm.”

Connor and his brother made it back to their nearby home in the moments after the assault. The boys’ friend ran to his own home.

Jamarion went out into the street, where he found a neighbor doing yard work. He asked to borrow the man’s phone. The man, Glen Stacy, didn’t realize why.

Jamarion allegedly told a 911 dispatcher he had stabbed someone, adding he hated his life and had “taken many pills.”   “Please pick me up. I want to die. I don’t want to be on this earth anymore,” a neighbor standing nearby recalled.

Police interviewed Jamarion at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Campus not long after the playground attack. His parents were standing close by, according to information contained in search warrants.

A gel plasma sample was taken from Jamarion with the permission of his mother, Anita Lawhorn. It showed the presence of prescription drugs Mirtazepine, an antidepressant, and the sedative anti-nausea medication Promethazine. The exact amounts of these drugs in the boy’s body was unclear and was expected to be found in further testing, documents show.

Detectives located both of those prescription drugs in the Lawhorn home, along with numerous other items.

Police found the Lawhorn home to be in an “unsafe and deplorable condition,” with drug paraphernalia, which tested positive for cocaine, in the bathroom. There were no sheets or bedding on the children’s beds and clothes were scattered throughout the house, documents say. Utilities had recently been shut off and there was only “minimal” food around.

Jamarion was “covered in bruises,” Kent County Juvenile Detention Center workers found. He blamed his stepfather, Bernard Harrold, for the injuries.

Since that time, Anita Lawhorn and Bernard Harrold have pleaded no contest to charges she beat Jamarion with a belt and he beat the boy with an electrical cord. The state has removed Anita Lawhorn’s 14-year-old son and her daughters, ages 2 and 7, from their care. The children are living with relatives.

Jamarion is the youngest person charged with murder in Kent County history. He remains in juvenile detention and is awaiting results of a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he is fit for trial on a charge of first-degree murder.