GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — More charges have been filed against the mother accused of abusing her 12-year-old son, who himself is facing a murder charge.
Anita Lawhorn was arraigned on Friday on a count of welfare fraud over $500 and a count of welfare fraud, failure to inform – $500 or more. Those are both four-year felonies, according to Kent County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Chris Becker.
Lawhorn and her husband Bernard Harrold already face child abuse charges for allegedly beating Lawhorn’s son Jamarion. Court records allege the pair beat the boy with an electrical cord and belt. Lawhorn has denied beating her son and blamed Harrold for the abuse.
Jamarion, 12, is now behind bars, accused of stabbing and killing 9-year-old Connor Verkerke on a Kentwood playground in August of 2014. Authorities say he admitted to doing it because he wanted to die and take someone with him. He is the youngest person ever charged with murder in Kent County.
Records show the alleged welfare fraud happened in April of 2010. Further details were not immediately available.
In a Friday email to a 24 Hour News 8 reporter, Lawhorn’s attorney Jeff Crampton said it appears the Department of Humans Services is claiming Lawhorn failed to disclose some of the aid one of her children was getting. But he says he has a 2004 document that shows the agency knew about the aid.
In the email, Crampton claimed the new charges are a desperate move on the part of prosecutors. He said prosecutors’ abuse case is weak and they are trying to cover up poor handling of the situation.
Lawhorn was released on a personal recognizance bond after being fingerprinted and photographed at the Kent County jail.
The next hearing in the welfare fraud case is set for March 23. That’s the same day Lawhorn’s child abuse trial was scheduled to begin. Chief Assistant Prosecutor Becker said it will likely be adjourned for the time being. Lawhorn’s attorney says they want to wait until Jamarion’s criminal proceedings are concluded so he can testify on his mother’s behalf.
Harrold’s trial, which was also supposed to start on March 23, has also been delayed. It has not yet been rescheduled.