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'Blood like a river,' slain boy's mother testifies


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- On the afternoon nine-year-old Connor Verkerke was killed, his accused assailant hid a knife in the sand of a Kentwood playground and patiently waited to strike, the assistant prosecutor said in opening statement's today.

"When Connor turns his back on the defendant, he comes at him with this knife, stabs him three times in the back and once in the arm,'' Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Bramble told jurors assembled for the felony murder trial of 13-year-old Jamarion Lawhorn.

The stabbing took place Aug. 4, 2014 at a playground at Pinewood Village mobile home park after Verkerke fell off a slide. Prosecutors contend Lawhorn, then 12, had been planning to kill someone for more than a year.

Suspect in Kentwood home invasions charged


KENTWOOD, Mich. (WZZM) -- The man accused of breaking into several Kentwood homes in recent months was charged Tuesday afternoon.

Clifford Washington, 22, is accused of home invasion, and receiving and concealing stolen property.

Police say they responded to multiple early-morning home invasions in the Bailey's Grove area over the past several months.

Investigators on a surveillance detail arrested Washington Sunday night into Monday morning. They said Washington also lives in the same neighborhood where those home invasions happened.


Jury seated in Jamarion Lawhorn murder trial


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- A jury was seated Monday afternoon in the murder trial for 13-year-old Jamarion Lawhorn, who is accused of fatally stabbing a younger boy at a Kentwood playground last August.

A Kent County judge this summer ruled that Lawhorn, now 13, is competent to assist in his own defense for the slaying of Connor Verkerke at the Pinewood Village mobile home park after Verkerke fell off a slide.

A pool of 80 potential jurors assembled today for jury selection at the Kent County Courthouse in downtown Grand Rapids; a 14-member panel was seated just before 1 p.m.

Testimony will get underway Tuesday morning in Judge Paul Denenfeld's 6th floor courtroom. The trial is expected to last through Thursday.

Lawhorn is charged as an adult with felony murder. He's been held at Kent County's juvenile detention facility since his arrest last August.

Police look for man who tried to rob Kentwood Bank


KENTWOOD, Mich. (WZZM) - Kentwood Police are looking for the suspect that tried to rob the PNC Bank on 44th St. SE, Saturday morning. Investigators say the man entered the bank around 9:30 a.m. wearing a mask that appeared to be made of duct tape, an orange knit cap, sunglasses, and a black coat covered with a yellow reflective sleeveless vest.

He told the employees he was there to rob the bank, after spending approximately one minute in the bank, the suspect took off without any money. Employees told investigators that they did not see a weapon and the suspect didn't say he had one.

The suspect left the bank on foot heading South. A Grand Rapids Police K-9 unit was called in to track the suspect. The track ended in a nearby parking lot.

The suspect, described as a white man, 20-30 years old, standing 5'8"-5'10", weighing 160-175 pounds and was carrying a medium sized red duffle type bag.

Kentwood girl battling cancer gets Horsey House Call


KENTWOOD, Mich. (WZZM) -- A Kentwood child fighting brain cancer received a special house call Thursday.

Zip the therapy horse surprised 4-year-old Madison Pagel at her home in Kentwood.

It's part of a program called Horsey House Calls put on by Camp Casey.

Deck with 12 collapses at G.R. Twp. home, 1 hurt


GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- Emergency crews say 12 people were on a deck at a Grand Rapids Twp. home when the deck collapsed Tuesday evening.

The deck was about eight feet high, on the back of a home in the 900 block of Kenmoor Ave. SE.

It collapsed around 8 p.m.

One person was treated for injuries that firefighters said were not very serious.


Allegiant announces direct flights from G.R. to Punta Gorda


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Allegiant air announced Tuesday it is bringing back direct flights from Grand Rapids to Punta Gorda, Florida. The non-stop services will begin Nov. 4, 2015.

To celebrate the return of this highly anticipated route, Allegiant is offering fares as low as $49 one way.

"We're pleased to once again provide Grand Rapids travelers the opportunity to affordably vacation in Southwest Florida," said Jude Bricker, Allegiant Travel Company senior vice president of planning. "The community has enthusiastically responded to our latest Florida flights, and we are confident that we will see the same response to our Punta Gorda service."

The flights will operate twice weekly and will fly nonstop between Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) and Punta Gorda Airport (PGD).

Flight days, times and the lowest fares can be found at Allegiant.com.