Jamarion Lawhorn, the 12-year-old Kent County boy convicted for murder and sentenced to decades behind bars, claimed that his plan had been to commit suicide and take someone with him. Why? Because he was so badly abused at home, that he no longer wanted to live. And now, Anita Lawhorn, his much-maligned mother, will get her day in court. An opportunity to tell her side of the story. And a chance to redeem herself in the eyes of the public.
The 11-person jury has already been seated, consisting of three men and eleven women, and the trial has now begun. In opening statements, Lawhorn’s defense attorney pointed out that while she certainly hit Jamarion for disciplinary purposes, she never used “excessive force”. But testimony from nurses who evaluated Jamarion Lawhorn, doesn’t appear to line up with her claims.
Dr. Debra Simms, the director of Spectrum Health’s Center for Child Protection, agrees that the boy told her that his stepfather Bernard Harrold, beat him with an extension cord. But Jamarion was apparently reluctant to talk to social workers about his mother, lest he get her into trouble. He did admit that she had beaten him with a belt on his back and legs, and then told him not to tell at school what happened in their home.
Lawhorn has been charged with third and fourth degree child abuse. Under Michigan law, third degree child abuse is a felony punishable by up to two years in prison. Fourth degree child abuse, however, is a misdemeanor and can result in up to one year in jail.
In 2011, CPS investigated allegations of abuse after Jamarion was beaten with a belt – a beating that left scars. But the investigation didn’t result in any action, and a year later Jamarion Lawhorn made the terrible decision to kill himself with an electric chair. In other words, he committed a crime he thought would earn him the death penalty, and then turned himself over to police when they arrived, eager for his pending execution.
But it was a flawed plan. In part because Michigan outlawed the death penalty ages ago, and also because executing children isn’t an option anywhere in the US, regardless of the crime. Following Jamarion’s arrest, investigators discovered that the boy was allegedly regularly beaten for things like failing to fill the ice trays and not doing chores. The scars on his body backed his claims.
But the dilemma now, is whether the perceived abuse was the result of Jamarion’s mother, or his stepfather. According to Anita Lawhorn, her husband was the abuser, not her. Jamarion Lawhorn is reluctant to point the finger at his mother, and she is not admitting anything. According to her attorney, “The government couldn’t figure out who caused the injuries, Mr. Harrold or Miss Lawhorn, so they charged them both. But the only person in the house who ever used an extension cord was Mr. Harrold.”
We will keep you updated as this trial progresses, and more information becomes available.
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