Neighbor of 12-year-old murder suspect says ‘no surprise’ over arrest

Posted at 9:29 PM, Aug 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-06 05:27:44-04

KENTWOOD, Mich. -- A neighbor of Jamarion Lawhorn tells FOX 17 that he always had a strange feeling about the boy.

"Damn it, that's him," said the neighbor, who did not want his name used and would not appear on camera. "Sad, but to tell you the truth, no surprise."

The neighbor said that he would try to talk to Lawhorn when he would pass by his house, but the 12-year-old never responded.

"See him on almost a daily basis this time of year and comes down this sidewalk just about everyday," said the neighbor. "He's the first one that came to mind. However, you can't point fingers, and I know the neighborhood fairly well. We've lived here for several years, and it's very unfortunate."

Lawhorn is charged as an adult for the stabbing death of 9-year-old Conner Verkerke. Investigators said that Lawhorn attacked Verkerke with a steak knife near the playground at Pinebrook Village Mobile Home Park at about 6 p.m. on Monday.

Lawhorn's neighbor also said that he'd keep an eye on his property, because of the strange feeling he got from the 12-year-old.

"I've got equipment in the house here. I've got the garage open. He seemed to have big eyes, you know what I'm saying. Like, you kind of felt like you wanted to watch your back."

Kent County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Laura Clifton told FOX 17 that she has never prosecuted someone as young as Lawhorn for murder.

Investigators said that it doesn't appear that Lawhorn and Verkerke knew each other.

A witness said that Lawhorn used his cell phone to call 911 and told dispatchers that he had just stabbed someone. The witness also said that Lawhorn admitted to taking pills and expressed feelings of wanting to end his life.

The neighbor who spoke to us said everyone in the community has been affected by the tragedy. "I feel bad for them. You know, obviously. I mean for the whole family involved. Both families."

A vigil is scheduled at the playground where the incident took place. It is scheduled for August 6 at 7:00 p.m.

Family members have set up an account for donations to help cover funeral costs.  That can be found by clicking here.

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