Expert believes boy is competent to stand trial

Associated Press

Grand Rapids — A psychologist says a 12-year-old boy is competent to face trial in the fatal stabbing of a 9-year-old boy at a playground in the Grand Rapids area.

Defense attorney Charles Boekeloo will have two weeks to decide whether to seek another opinion.

The 12-year-old is charged with fatally stabbing 9-year-old Michael Verkerke at a playground in Kentwood in August. The boy replied, “Yes, sir,” when a Kent County judge asked him if he understood what was happening in court Tuesday.

He’s designated as an adult in the juvenile court system, meaning he would be sentenced as a juvenile if convicted of murder, then resentenced as an adult at age 21.

The boy’s siblings have been removed from their home over allegations of abuse by their mother. The Department of Human Services was aware of abuse but didn’t remove the 12-year-old from the home, long before he was accused of fatally stabbing another boy.

Because of his age, The Associated Press isn’t naming the 12-year-old.