Authorities: Charging 8-year-old ‘only way to get him help’

Caulfield Avenue SW, Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids police on the scene where an 8-year-old stabbed a 12-year-old on Caulfield Avenue SW. (Nov. 9, 2016)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — An 8-year-old boy accused of stabbing a 12-year-old boy is likely the youngest child charged with a violent crime in Kent County.

The boy, who lives with his mother on Grand Rapids’ southwest side, is accused of stabbing the older child in the upper torso after an argument at a home in the 900 block of Caulfield Avenue SW.

Police said the suspect was arguing with some younger siblings when the 12-year-old intervened, at which point the 8-year-old picked up a knife and stabbed him.

The victim, who also lived in the same home, survived the Nov. 9 attack and was last reported in stable condition.

A judge last week approved a charge of assault with intent to commit great bodily harm less than murder against the boy. The felony carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Vicki Seidl, who handles juvenile cases, said the boy is the youngest person accused of a violent felony that she can recall during her more than 20 years in the office.

The next step in the case is a hearing to determine if the 8-year-old boy is competent to stand trial. That burden is on the prosecutor since, under state law, anyone under age 10 is presumed incompetent, Seidl said.

“We’re not looking to lock him up,” Seidl said. “This is all about treatment. We obviously have an issue with an 8-year-old boy capable of stabbing somebody. The only way to get him help is to charge him.”

The boy’s mom was at work at the time of the stabbing, Seidl said. However, police previously said a boyfriend of one of the boy’s moms was watching them at the home, and adults in the home disarmed the boy.

The 8-year-old is being held at Kent County Juvenile Detention.

The youngest child ever charged and convicted of murder in Kent County was Jamarion Lawhorn, who was 12 years old when he stabbed 9-year-old Connor Verkerke to death on a Kentwood playground in August 2014.

Lawhorn, who was abused by his parents leading up to the attack, remains locked up in a juvenile facility.