12-year-old victim says stabbing was an accident

8-year-old suspect is youngest person charged with violent crime in Kent Co.

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 remains in juvenile detention a week after police say he stabbed his 12-year-old friend in the house they shared in Grand Rapids.

Wednesday, Kent County authorities said they took the child suspect into custody so he could get the help he needs away from the home where the stabbing occurred.

The mom of both the victim and the accused stabber were best friends who lived either with or near each other and co-parented more than a half-dozen children.

The two youngsters came together Nov. 9 at the house on Caulfield Avenue SW after the 12-year-old’s mom — a repeat fraud convict — was sentenced to one to two years in prison last month after she fled from police in Grand Rapids.

“Tempers got out of hand, that’s how I can put it best,” said Marashette Burks — along with her wife Catrina — is caring for the victim and his four siblings since they left the home in Grand Rapids.

Police say there were numerous children in the home when the stabbing occurred as the 12-year-old got between arguing children. Everyone agrees — police, prosecutors and witnesses — the stabbing was not a premeditated assault, but it still means the boy-suspect must remain in custody while things are sorted out.

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.

“They were going to split them up. We couldn’t see that happening, there was no way we could allow that to happen,” Burks said.

Burks said the mom of the 8-year-old suspect visited the victim in the hospital as he recovered from two stab wounds to his left side and the surgery required to repair the damage.

“All she kept saying is she is so sorry, you know, that this happened,” Burks said. “This didn’t only hurt the two kids who it involved, it hurt their families as well.”

Now the 12-year-old says he misses his friend and wants to tell him he understands.

“I know that even though he hurt me he wouldn’t try to do it again,” the boy said. “I feel like he does need help.”

If the 12-year-old could speak to his alleged attacker, he would say,“I know you didn’t mean to do it, bro.”

The women caring for the kids now find themselves with the financial burden of caring for the five children between the ages of 3 and 15. They hope to find a bigger home and plan to care for them as long as they need to. They have set up a GoFundMe account to help with expenses.