Independent evaluation sought for 12-year-old charged in fatal Michigan playground stabbing

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GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — A defense lawyer is seeking an independent psychiatric evaluation for a 12-year-old boy charged in the fatal stabbing of a 9-year-old boy at a playground in western Michigan.

The Grand Rapids Press reports Kent County Circuit Court Judge Paul Denenfeld ruled Thursday that the state will pay for the exam to determine whether the boy is competent to stand trial and whether he can be held criminally responsible.

A state psychologist earlier ruled that the boy is competent for trial. Defense attorney Charles Boekeloo, however, asked for another opinion. A hearing is Feb. 20.

The boy is charged with murder in the August fatal stabbing of 9-year-old Michael Verkerke at a playground in Kentwood near Grand Rapids.

The Associated Press isn't naming the 12-year-old because of his age.

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