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Dec 24, 8:17 AM EST

Expert: 12-year-old boy can stand trial for murder

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) -- A psychologist says a 12-year-old boy is competent to face trial in the fatal stabbing of a 9-year-old boy at a playground in western Michigan.

Defense attorney Charles Boekeloo will have two weeks to decide whether to seek another opinion.

The boy is charged with murder in the fatal stabbing of 9-year-old Michael Verkerke at a playground in Kentwood near Grand Rapids in August. The boy replied, "Yes, sir," when a Kent County judge asked him if he understood what was happening in court Tuesday.

He's designated as an adult in the juvenile court system, meaning he would be sentenced as a juvenile if convicted of murder, then resentenced as an adult at age 21.

The boy's siblings have been removed from their home following allegations of abuse by their mother. The Department of Human Services was aware of the abuse allegations long before the fatal stabbing but didn't remove the 12-year-old or his siblings from the home.

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

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