Judge orders mental exam for 12-year-old charged with murder in playground stabbing of boy, 9

The Associated Press
August 11, 2014 07:55 PM

A woman carries a cross to a memorial during a vigil for Michael Connor Verkerke, 9, who was stabbed and killed Monday, Aug. 4, by a 12 year-old-boy, who is currently facing a murder charge, in Kentwood, Mich., Aug. 6, 2014. Kentwood Police Chief Thomas Hillen said authorities were still investigating a motive for the attack. (AP Photo/Joel Bissell | MLive.com)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A judge on Monday ordered a mental competency exam for a 12-year-old boy charged with murder in the stabbing of a 9-year-old boy at a western Michigan playground.

It happened at a hearing in Kent County Family Court. Defence lawyer Charles Boekeloo told Judge G. Patrick Hillary that his client was waiving his right to a probable cause hearing, clearing the way for a trial.

Authorities say the 12-year-old confessed to stabbing Michael Connor Verkerke on Aug. 4 in Kentwood, near Grand Rapids.

The Associated Press isn't naming the 12-year-old because of his age. He's designated as an adult in the juvenile court system, meaning he'd be sentenced as a juvenile if convicted and then resentenced as an adult once he turns 21.

Michael's funeral is 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at Cornerstone Church in Caledonia Township.

State mental health experts will examine the 12-year-old and report on whether they believe he is mentally competent to stand trial. That is expected to bring a delay of several months.

"There is nothing typical about this case," Boekeloo told The Grand Rapids Press.

Witnesses told investigators that four children were playing when one of them pulled a knife and stabbed Michael in the back.

The 12-year-old told an ambulance crew he had been planning the incident for a year and wanted to take someone with him when he killed himself, police told the newspaper.

The boy then left the playground and approached a man at a nearby house to call 911. Witnesses said the boy presented his wrists to be cuffed when police arrived and said he wanted to die.

"Arrest me," the 12-year-old said to officers, putting his hands above his head, according to a Kentwood police report. "I want to die. I'm tired of life."

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