NEW CASTLE —
Kenzie Houk’s parents are devastated — again.
The first time was when she was fatally shot in February, 2009.
The second time was Wednesday, when they learned of a ruling by the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
A three-judge panel overturned the decision of Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge John Hodge, who had found Jordan Brown responsible for the 26-year-old Houk’s death.
“We’re devastated,” her mother Debbie Houk said. “I don’t know what we’re going to do. We’re very upset.”
Following a juvenile court hearing last spring, Jordan, now 15, was found to have been responsible for the deaths of Houk — his father’s fiancée — and her unborn child.
He was ordered to a juvenile facility for treatment. His case is to be reviewed every six months by the trial judge who determines whether he should continue treatment or be released. The process continues until he is released or turns 21. The next review is scheduled for June 19.
However, the appeals court’s ruling orders the case back to the county and opens the possibility of a new trial.
Kenzie Houk’s father Jack said he does not look forward to another trial and the stress it will put on his family.
Although the appeals court said the evidence presented does not support the judge’s finding, the Houks are confident the police arrested the correct person.
“All of this is so unnecessary,” Debbie Houk said, adding, “I don’t want to go through this a second time.”
She said the ruling is hurting both her family and Jordan.
“No one cares to help him,” she said. “This will only hurt him. It will not help him to get better.”
In addition to putting herself and her husband through the pain of another trial, she said, Kenzie’s 12-year-old daughter Jenessa — who was 7 at the time of the shooting — may be required to testify.
Houk, who is raising Jenessa and her 8-year-old sister, said she has not spoken with her about the case. The girls, she said, are in counseling for the loss of their mother.
“But this will require a lot more if she has to testify,” Houk said. “Everyone considers what is best for Jordan but what about the little girls? They are not considered.”
Houk said she has no reason to believe a second trial will yield a different outcome.
“Two people are dead and there is no one else,” she said. “We’ve had forensics, the best there is. I don’t doubt what they had to say. He knew what to do and he did it. There was no one else there. It is time to pay for what he did.
“I sometimes wonder about what went on. Did she feel anything? What about the baby, so close to being born, did he struggle when his oxygen was cut off?”
Houk said she wants to get on with as normal a life as possible with her granddaughters.
When the ruling came down, she said, she followed through with plans to attend a mother-daughter dinner with her mother.
“I’ll never be able to attended such a Mother’s Day dinner with my daughter Kenzie,” she said, “and her daughters will never have another Mother’s Day with their mother.
“Sometimes it seems like yesterday that she was here. I’ve filled the void in their lives but I’ll never be a mommy to them,” she said of her granddaughters.
“Their mother was taken from them and so was their grandma. I can’t enjoy them as my grandchildren if I’m the one raising them.
“I don’t ask for pity, but it’s not easy.”
NEW CASTLE —
Kenzie Houk’s parents are devastated — again.
- Jordan Brown Case
Boy’s murder case goes to Pennsylvania high court
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court must decide if a Pennsylvania teen should get a new trial in the death of his father’s pregnant fiancée, who was fatally shot with a youth-model shotgun when he was 11.
Our Opinion: After five years, Jordan Brown case continues — sadly for all
It’s not unusual for newspapers to look back on major news events when key anniversaries come about. So it was that the New Castle News has been running articles on the fifth anniversary of the 2009 slaying of Kenzie Houk, and the subsequent arrest of Jordan Brown for the crime.
Jordan Brown Case, Five Years Later: Defense attorney learns ‘to expect the unexpected’
On the morning of Feb. 21, 2009, attorney Dennis Elisco met a boy who changed his life. Thursday marked the five-year anniversary in the case of 16-year-old Jordan Brown.
Jordan Brown Case, Five Years Later: After half a decade, intrigue and questions remain
Unusual aspects of Jordan Brown’s case drew national and international attention. Now 16, Jordan was 11 when he was charged as an adult with two counts of homicide in the fatal shooting of his father’s pregnant fiancée, Kenzie Marie Houk, 26.
Jordan Brown Case, Five Years Later: Father convinced beyond a doubt of son’s innocence
The broken-hearted father of Jordan Brown is rebuilding his life while remaining strong for his son. Jordan is charged in the fatal shooting five years ago of his father’s pregnant fiancée, Kenzie Houk. She was killed in the New Beaver Borough farmhouse the couple shared with Jordan, then 11, and her daughters, who were 7 and 4.
Jordan Brown Case, Five Years Later: Juvenile advocate in teen’s corner
Dan Dailey has raised money and provided support for Jordan Brown’s defense team. Now a 16-year-old, Jordan was 11 when he was charged as an adult with two counts of homicide in the fatal shooting of his father’s pregnant fiancée, Kenzie Marie Houk, 26.
Jordan Brown Case, Five Years Later: Victim’s family ‘coming along’
Second in a series: It’s been five years since Jordan Brown, then 11, was charged with fatally shooting his father’s pregnant fiancée, yet family members on both sides are still searching for answers. Reporter Nancy Lowry explores this historic case in a special series.
Jordan Brown Case, Five Years Later: Family gathers at cemetery, again
For the fifth time, the Houk family has marked the death of their Kenzie Marie and her unborn son. About two dozen friends and family members gathered Thursday night at Parkside Cemetery for the annual memorial service.
Jordan Brown Case, Five Years Later: Reluctant to comment, prosecutor remains ready
Prosecutors stand ready to bring the Jordan Brown case to its conclusion. Anthony J. Krastek, Pennsylvania senior deputy attorney general, took over prosecution of the case in January 2010.
PDF: Jordan Brown timeline of events
Reporter Nancy Lowry and paginator Bob Fusco outline the key events in the Jordan Brown case through the last five years.
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- Boy’s murder case goes to Pennsylvania high court