Teen who killed boy at playground could be free at 21

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A 13-year-old boy who fatally stabbed another boy at a playground in western Michigan could be released from custody when he’s 21.

A Kent County judge sentenced the boy to a juvenile detention center Wednesday. If he avoids trouble and meets expectations, he could be released at 21, although prosecutors could request a prison term at that age, too.

There’s no dispute that the then-12-year-old boy killed Michael Connor Verkerke at a playground in Kentwood, near Grand Rapids, in 2014. The defense argued that years of abuse at home had wrecked his mental health and overwhelmed his decisions, but the jury convicted him of first-degree murder.

The teen read a statement, apologizing to the 9-year-old victim’s family.

The Associated Press isn’t naming the boy because of his age.

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