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While there was no doubt that Jamarion stabbed Connor to death on the playground in August 2014, it turned out that he had been beaten so badly by his mother and her boyfriend, Bernard Harrold, that he had scars on his body.
The couple have both been sentenced to one year in prison and five years probation this week, after being found guilty of child abuse, according to The Daily Mail.
Since the couple has three children in their custody, one adult will serve 150 days in jail, then the other will serve time in order for the children to remain under supervision, Wood8 TV reports.
Lawhorn will serve her 150 days in Kent County jail, after that, Harrold will serve his 150 days jail time. They will then serve the rest of their sentences at some point during their five-year probation, according to the outlet.
Jamarion had reportedly been so abused by his mother and her boyfriend, that he hardly showed any compassion after he killed Connor. He casually strolled down the street to use a cell phone to report the murder to 911 after stabbing Verkerke in the back four times with a knife.
“I’m fed up with life,” Jamarion allegedly told the emergency services operator. “Come get me and lock me up for life. Take me to juvenile for life. Kill me,” he added.
“Hurry up and come kill me or take me to jail or something,” Jamarion casually remarked on the recorded emergency call. “Put me away. I don’t want to be on this earth no more. Give me the electric chair, I don’t care,” he added.
Listening to the recording of Jamarion’s nonchalant attitude, even annoyance and impatience with the 911 operator, played a big part in convincing the jurors that he knew exactly what he was doing when he killed Connor and knew that his actions warranted punishment.
Jamarion’s defense counsel argued that he should be shielded from criminal responsibility because of childhood abuse, but the jury rejected those claims.
Believing that his depraved state of mind was probably brought on by childhood abuse, authorities recommended that Jamarion’s sentence should be lessened.
“I just lost it, I whooped him,” said Harrold, admitting to beating Jamarion up to 15 times with a belt, when he found out the child had forged his parent’s name on school papers.
“I was always raised that a man raises young men,’ Harrold continued about Jamarion’s whooping, which left permanent scars on his back. “’I did what my dad did,” he tearfully added.
Although prosecutors claimed that the mother had also beaten her son, Lawhorn’s defense attorney, Jeffery Crampton, attempted to lead the jury to believe that Harrold was the only culprit, and thus solely responsible for the scars left on Jamarion’s legs in May 2013.
Sentencing Lawhorn and Harrold, Judge Paul Sullivan said that even with third-degree child abuse convictions, he didn’t agree with prosecutors that they should serve more time in prison. He added that giving them the maximum sentence of two years behind bars would not be good for them or Jamarion’s siblings.
“I suspect that whatever sentence I hand down, people are going to have a problem with it. They’re going to think this is ridiculous,” Sullivan continued. “There will be people very unhappy with one side or the other,” he added.
Sobbing out loud in court, Lawhorn apologized to the family of Connor, her own family, the judge and Jamarion himself, when she was given the opportunity to speak before her sentence was announced.
“I think over and over and over again what could I have done different,” Lawhorn said. “Is all that happened my fault and what kind of help could I have gotten for my son?”
“I want to say I’m sorry to Jamarion and I wish I could have seen the warning signs and I want him to know that he will always be my son and I will always be here for him no matter what,” Lawhorn continued. “I want to say I’m sorry to the Verkerkes. I feel their pain every day and I couldn’t imagine how they feel losing their child, but I’m sorry,” she added.
Sullivan also told Lawhorn and Harrold that part of their probation would depend on their parenting in the future. He added that if they slipped back into the use of drugs or alcohol or any of the other problems they’ve displayed previously, they could both end up spending more time in jail.
The Daily Mail reports that this is not the first time Lawhorn has had run-ins with the law; her instances of child abuse date back as far as 1996.
When her 1-year-old child suffered four broken bones and her 3-year-old was found with cigarette burns on her chest, Lawhorn was forced to give up both daughters in upstate New York.
Attempting to lay the blame for her poor parenting on other problems she has, Lawhorn claimed she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
Despite Harrold claiming that he also suffers from PTSD and anxiety, court records show that both mother and boyfriend tested positive for cocaine.