Kent County Murder, Abuse: Is CPS Liable?

October 9, 2014 Abuse and Neglect Attorney

Prosecutor says State is not to Blame

Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Laura Clifton, who is currently handling the tragic murder case against Kent County’s youngest ever defendant charged with murder, has gone on the record to say that laying blame on the state for what happened to Jamarion Lawhorn is essentially pointing the finger in the wrong direction.

This comes after there was significant public outcry regarding the fact that CPS had a long history with the Lawhorn family. Officials are saying that Jamarion should have been removed from his mother and stepfather’s care after the agency had substantiated the fact that he was subject to abuse.

But Clifton claims that the state had no knowledge that Jamarion had returned to Michigan to live with his mother and stepfather. According to CPS documents, Jamarion was supposed to be staying with his father in New York state as of June 2013.

However, he apparently returned to Michigan to visit his mother in May, and was never returned to his father’s care. By August, the abuse against him had allegedly resumed, and Jamarion reached a point of no return in his own mind. After stabbing 9-year-old Connor Verkerke to death on a neighborhood playground on August 4th, Jamarion offered himself up into police custody, telling the arresting officers that he was “tired of life” and “wanted to die”.

According to Clifton, there is no record of Jamarion’s father making any effort to notify authorities that he had not returned from Michigan. “People want to blame CPS for this, but the parents failed to follow up.” Clifton explained.

The ensuing investigation revealed a home where the children went without enough food, lived in what the investigators called “deplorable” conditions, and were frequently physically abused. Jamarion’s mother, Anita Lawhorn, had her three remaining children removed from her care – a 14-year-old son and two daughters, aged 2 and 7-years-old.

Jamarion is currently being held in the Kent County Juvenile Detention Center, where he is allowed weekly supervised visits with his mother. As for her other children, they are currently living with relatives and are allowed supervised visits with their mother.

According to the judge, since the children have been removed from her custody, Anita Lawhorn and her husband have been cooperating with authorities and participating in the required counseling sessions. “I’m genuinely impressed. I think we’re off to a good positive start. ” said Judge Paul Denenfeld.


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