Kent County’s youngest convicted killer loses appeal

Jamarion Lawhorn
Jamarion Lawhorn at a hearing in Kent County on May 17, 2017.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Kent County’s youngest convicted killer has lost his appeal.

In a ruling issued Thursday, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the murder conviction of Jamarion Lawhorn.

Lawhorn’s lawyers argued that the evidence clearly showed he was guilty but mentally ill when he stabbed 9-year-old Connor Verkerke to death on a Kentwood playground in August 2014.

Connor Verkerke.

The boy’s lawyers also argued the jury should have been allowed to consider a lesser offense of manslaughter, Jamarion’s statements to police should not have been admissible and an autopsy photo of Connor should not have been shown to the jury.

Jamarion told police in the hours after the stabbing that he was looking for someone to kill and the 9-year-old boy who asked him if he wanted to play just happened to be the most convenient victim.

A jury found Jamarion guilty of first-degree murder in September 2015.

The teen apologized to Connor Verkerke’s family ahead of his sentencing Nov. 4, 2015.

The Michigan Court of Appeals rejected their arguments, but said the issue of whether Lawhorn should have been found guilty but mentally ill was “a close call.”

Jamarion, now, 15 remains at the Muskegon River Youth Home near Evart where his mom visits him regularly.

His mother, Anita Lawhorn is also appealing her May 2013 conviction for abusing Jamarion.

Anita Lawhorn’s attorneys say that the child abuse statute on which she was convicted is too vague and overly broad.

Jamarion Lawhorn, Anita Lawhorn
Jamarion Lawhorn and his mother, Anita Lawhorn, at a hearing on May 17, 2017.

Investigators found that the Lawhorn home was in deplorable condition and both mother and son would tell police that she would give him what they called “whuppings.” Investigators also found scars on Jamarion they believe caused by something like an electrical cord.

Anita Lawhorn remains on probation until the year 2020.