Murder suspect’s mom blames abuse on stepdad

Anita Lawhorn and Bernard Harrold in court for allegations they abused Lawhorn's son Jamarion. (Oct. 2014)

KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — A mother accused of abusing her 12-year-old son — who now faces charges for murdering a 9-year-old — is now saying his stepfather did it.

When Jamarion Lawhorn was arrested last year for stabbing 9-year-old Connor Verkerke, police said, he was covered with bruises that he said came from his stepfather. Authorities who searched the home where he lived with his siblings, mother and stepfather for “deplorable” conditions.

His mother Anita Lawhorn and her husband Bernard Harrold now each face child abuse charges for allegedly hurting Jamarion. They are accused of beating Jamarion with an electrical cord and belt nearly two years ago.

In court documents, Lawhorn denied responsibility for beating her son and said Harrold is to blame.

Lawhorn’s attorney has filed a request to delay her trial so Jamarion can testify. She also wants her trial to be separate from Harrold’s.

Jamarion Lawhorn is the youngest person ever charged with murder in Kent County. He is charged with stabbing and killing Connor Verkerke on a Kentwood playground in August 2014. He said he did it because he wanted to die and take someone with him.

Jamarion Lawhorn in Kent County juvenile court. (Feb. 20, 2015)
(Jamarion Lawhorn in Kent County juvenile court on Feb. 20, 2015)

He might not testify until his criminal case is wrapped up, court records say. He has a hearing set for next month to determine if he is competent to stand trial.

Anita Lawhorn faces up to two years in prison if convicted. Harrold faces up to three years because of criminal record.

Their other children have been removed from their care. They are scheduled to appear in court on March 23.

The abuse case involving Jamarion has led to statewide changes in Children’s Protective Services after it failed to take steps to remove tho boy from his mother’s care a year ago.

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