Saying goodbye to 9-year-old stabbing victim

KENTWOOD, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Family and friends will say goodbye Wednesday to a 9-year-old boy stabbed and killed by another boy on a playground.

Conner Verkerke was killed last week.

The Verkerke family tells us they are trying to focus on the future and on Connor's three siblings.

Police say 12-year-old Jamarion Lawhorn repeatedly stabbed Conner in the back last Monday at Pinebrook Village Mobile Home Park in Kentwood.

Detective say the attack was unprovoked and that Lawhorn told them he thought he would be killed for stabbing someone.

Lawhorn is being charged as an adult in the juvenile system. He was in court in a Grand Rapids courtroom on Monday where he's been ordered to undergo a mental evaluation.

At a vigil last week for Connor his family told us they hope communities can learn from this tragedy.

"Embracing community, that's the lesson I think the family really wants you to know. We need to strike a balance between protecting our kids and giving them the freedom to understand the world," said relative Jim Stearns.

Visitation for Connor is Wednesday from 10:30 to 11:30 at Cornerstone Church in Caledonia Township. His funeral will then follow at 11:30.

We've been given permission to have a reporter at the services; you can look for more on the tribute to Connor Verkerke beginning at noon.