New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
The case against Jordan Brown is almost over.
Anthony J. Krastek, senior deputy attorney general who is prosecuting, concluded his case prior to the noon break Wednesday.
The defense began and concluded its case Wednesday afternoon. Both sides are expected to make closing arguments Thursday morning.
Wednesday, Krastek said the case then is in the hands of Judge John Hodge. He may issue his ruling from the bench, Krastek noted, or take up to seven days to do so. Evidence and defense arguments in a juvenile court case are presented to a judge without a jury.
Jordan is charged with the Feb. 20, 2009, shooting of his father’s pregnant fiancée, Kenzie Marie Houk, 26. He was 11 when Houk was killed in the North Beaver Township home she shared with Jordan, his father and her two daughters.
Now 14, Jordan originally was charged as an adult with two counts of homicide. The case eventually was transferred to juvenile court.
Hodge ordered the case closed to the public and the news media. Three area newspapers, including the New Castle News, challenged Hodge’s ruling and appealed his rejection of this challenge to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, where a three-judge panel upheld Hodge’s ruling.
The judge has allowed just three members of each family inside the courtroom.
The Houk family is represented by Kenzie’s parents, Jack and Debbie Houk, and her sister, Jennifer Kraner. The Brown family has been represented by Jordan’s father, Chris Brown, his grandmother, Janice Brown Myers, and two of Chris Brown’s aunts. Cynthia Wiseman was selected Tuesday. A different aunt was in the courtroom Wednesday.
Houk family members said Kenzie’s grandmother would have liked to have been included. But Wednesday, Debbie Houk said she had been told who could be present and it was not her choice her mother was excluded.
Both families have questioned the other’s compassion.
Jack Houk noted Brown family members sat through testimony emotionless, saying, “They must not have a heart.”
Both groups sported T-shirts proclaiming: “Support & Luv the memory of Kenzie and Baby Houk” and “We love and support Jordan Brown.”
“We haven’t been able to speak out previously,” Wiseman said, “but we have loved and supported Jordan all along.”
“It’s an important message,” said Jordan’s uncle, Jonathan Krause.
“He’s a little boy. He’s been (in a juvenile facility) for three years. I understand this is a tragedy, but I don’t believe that my nephew did this.”
He said he holds onto the hope Jordan “will come walking out of this courtroom today.”
Krause added he has visited Jordan at the Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center and the boy remains in high spirits. He has been in the Erie facility since March 2009.
Dodi Frankovich echoed Krause’s statements. “We’re here for Jordan because we know that he is innocent.
“We believe in him. We’d like to get through this so they can find the real killer and actually give some justice to baby Christopher and Kenzie.”
Houk’s family and friends believe they will see no justice.
“His aunt said his childhood was taken from him but he chose to give it up,” Debbie Houk said. “Consider what my little girls have lost.
“If he did it, he needs help. He has not gotten the help he needs.
“In five or six years, they will get their family back. I never will. The two little girls will never get their mother back or the baby brother they never saw.”
She added that with her, family or friends, Kenzie’s daughters visit their mother’s grave daily.
“I hope when this is over Jordan will get help.” Jack Houk said. “This is what this is about. For three years he’s been in a holding tank, languishing in a palace. Nothing’s been done to help him.”
He added that as difficult as the prosecution testimony was to hear, information presented by the defense was harder.
“It’s lies,” he said. “There’s no credibility. It’s hard to listen to.”
(Contact Nancy Lowry at (724) 654-6651, extension 623, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org)