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12-year-old charged in playground murder

(ABC News) - A 9-year-old boy repeatedly stabbed by a 12-year-old at a Michigan playground ran screaming to his home and collapsed bleeding on his porch before dying at a hospital a short time later, witnesses and police said Tuesday.

Witnesses said the 12-year-old boy went to a nearby home after the Monday evening attack on Michael Conner Verkerke, called 911 and calmly turned himself in, then tried to flag down officers when they arrived.

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. A motive for the attack still was being investigated, Kentwood Police Chief Thomas Hillen said.

Barb Poelman told The Associated Press she was sitting on her deck in the Pinebrook Village mobile home park in the western Michigan city of Kentwood 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."


(Photo: Michael Conner Verkerke)

Connor told his brother: 'If anything happens to me, it's not your fault. I'll always love you,' as the boy had rushed his dying brother back to their parent's house in Kentwood.

Witnesses told investigators that four children were playing when one of them, for unknown reasons, pulled a knife and stabbed the boy in the back.

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 911 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.

Read more: ABC News

 
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