Kent County judge denies request to throw out young killer’s conviction

Posted at 3:23 PM, Oct 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-23 15:23:09-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.--The case of Kent County's youngest convicted killer was discussed in court again Friday morning.

Jamarion Lawhorn, 13, was convicted of first-degree murder in September for the stabbing death of Connor Verkerke. The 9-year-old was killed by Lawhorn on a Kentwood playground in August 2014.

During the predisposition hearing Friday morning, Lawhorn's attorney, Charles Boekeloo, argued that the judge had made mistakes during the 13-year-old's trial. He argued that the jury should have been given the option of charging Lawhorn with manslaughter, so the verdict should be thrown out.

Kent County Circuit Court Judge  Paul Denenfeld denied this request. He said that the facts of the case don't align with what manslaughter covers, so it wasn't a charge that could have been applied.

Boekeloo also requested that the judge add that Lawhorn was mentally ill at the time of the murder. Judge Denenfeld denied this request as well, stating that it wouldn't change how the 13-year-old would be sentenced.

The judge supported his decisions by saying that the stabbing was planned well in advance.

Lawhorn wasn't in court for the hearing. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 4th.

Connor Verkerke, 9.

Connor Verkerke, 9.