2728 97 LINKEDIN 147 COMMENTMORE

Corrections & Clarifications: An earlier version of this story misspelled the victim's middle name.

KENTWOOD, Mich. — A 12-year-old boy is being charged with open murder in the deadly stabbing of a 9-year-old boy at a playground in western Michigan on Monday night.

Police and witnesses say Michael Connor Verkerke was stabbed repeatedly in the back at the Pinebrook Village mobile park in Kentwood, Mich., outside of Grand Rapids.

Neighbors say Michael ran screaming to his home and collapsed bleeding on his porch. He died later at a hospital Monday evening. Investigators said the older boy used a neighbor's phone to call 911 to turn himself in.

The 12-year-old pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in juvenile court Tuesday, according to his attorney. He was ordered held in a juvenile detention center until a hearing next week.

Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Laura Clifton said the 12-year-old would be charged as an adult. Since he is designated as an adult in the juvenile court system, if convicted, he could be sentenced as a juvenile and then as an adult once he turns 21, said Chris Becker, chief assistant prosecutor for Kent County.

"We were sitting on our deck," said Barb Poelman, a neighbor. "We heard the kids run across the front ... screaming. He (Michael) ran with the kids that were with him."

A little later Poelman, 60, said the boy's distraught mother lay on the grass outside the family's home in Kentwood.

"She was screaming 'Where is the ambulance?' while her boy was laying on the porch bleeding," Poelman said. "The kids, I thought they were just playing."

Witnesses told investigators that four children were playing when the 12-year-old for unknown reasons, pulled a knife and stabbed the boy.

Glenn Stacy said he was approached by the 12-year-old after the incident.

"I was getting my ladder," said Stacy, "and this young man came and asked me if he could use my phone. I gave him my phone, and I heard him tell the 911 operator, 'I just stabbed someone. Come and get me. I want to die.' It was just a sad situation."

When police arrived at the mobile home park, they first went to aid the stabbing victim, but the boy wanted the officers to pick him up and yelled " 'Hello. I'm right here. You're going the wrong way,' " Stacy said.

The motive in the attack was still being investigated, said Kentwood Police Chief Thomas Hillen.

Police said the 12-year-old boy was evaluated at a hospital then taken to the Kent County Juvenile Detention Center.

Defense attorney Charles Boekeloo said he entered a not-guilty plea for the boy during a hearing Tuesday afternoon, adding that he may seek a mental evaluation to determine whether the boy is competent to stand trial.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 13.

Contributing: The Associated Press

2728 97 LINKEDIN 147 COMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/1npbENc