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Correction: Child Stabbed-Playground story

August 7, 2014

KENTWOOD, Michigan (AP) — KENTWOOD, Michigan (AP) — In stories Aug. 5 and 6 about the stabbing death of a 9-year-old boy, The Associated Press, relying on information from Kentwood police, misspelled the victim’s middle name. His name was Michael Connor Verkerke, not Michael Conner Verkerke.

A corrected version of the Aug. 6 story is below:

12-year-old charged in fatal playground stabbing

9-year-old boy dies after stabbing at Michigan playground, 12-year-old boy charged with murder

By COREY WILLIAMS and PRIYA SRIDHAR

Associated Press

KENTWOOD, Michigan (AP) — A 9-year-old boy died after being repeatedly stabbed by a 12-year-old boy at a playground, police said Tuesday.

Michael Connor Verkerke ran home and collapsed on the porch around 6 p.m. Monday after he was stabbed at a mobile home park in western Michigan, according to police. Investigators said the older boy then left the playground and called police from a nearby home to turn himself in.

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

Barb Poelman told The Associated Press she was sitting on her deck in a mobile home park when “we heard the kids run across the front ... screaming. He (Michael) ran with the kids that were with him.”

She said the boy’s mother was distraught, pleading for help as she lay on the grass outside the family’s home.

“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 one of them, for unknown reasons, pulled a knife and stabbed the boy.

Glen Stacy, who lives nearby, told The Grand Rapids Press that the older boy approached him after the attack and asked to use his phone. He said the boy called police to report the attack and turn himself in. Stacy said he also called police and described the boy as “very calm.”

“The only time he raised his voice was when the police came,” Stacy said.

When police arrived at the mobile home park, they first went to aid the stabbing victim, but the older 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, Police Chief Thomas Hillen said.

Tiffany Armijo said her son was playing with Michael during the stabbing, adding that she had never seen the 12-year-old before. She declined to discuss any details about the attack, but said Michael was “a good kid” and her son’s best friend.

“He was playing with Michael and his brother, and my kid, too,” she said. “They always played together. He was at my house almost every day.”

Police said the 12-year-old boy was evaluated at a hospital then taken to the county juvenile detention center. Defense attorney Charles Boekeloo said he entered a not-guilty plea for the boy during a hearing Tuesday afternoon in juvenile court, adding that he may seek a mental evaluation to determine if the boy is competent to stand trial.

Poelman said the boy lived with his parents and two siblings in the mobile home park. A man who identified himself as Michael’s grandfather when the AP called a phone number listed for his home declined to comment.

___

AP writer Corey Williams reported from Detroit.

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