New Castle News

Jordan Brown Case

March 13, 2014

Boy’s murder case goes to Pennsylvania high court

PHILADELPHIA — 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.

Jordan Brown, now 16, has been in custody since being charged in the 2009 shooting deaths of Kenzie Houk and her unborn son in New Beaver Borough. It was a case that drew national and international attention because of both its chilling nature and the laws governing juvenile homicide suspects.

In 2012, a Lawrence County judge determined Jordan was responsible for the deaths, the equivalent of a guilty finding. An appeals court overturned that decision, calling it “plainly contrary to the evidence” and sent the case back to Lawrence County.

Prosecutors appealed, leading to the high court arguments Wednesday.

Defense lawyer Dennis Elisco called the murder investigation faulty. He argued that investigators never had searched the perimeter of the snowy yard for footprints or explored what might have happened after Jordan went to school that day.

There was a 45-minute gap between the time the boy boarded a school bus and tree-trimmers discovered the crime scene.

“I guess something could have happened, but we don’t have any evidence of it,” James Barker, chief deputy attorney general, told the justices.

Houk was shot in the back of the head with the boy’s youth model shotgun. A shell case was found on the long driveway between the house and the road, where the school bus picked the boy up.

The shooting occurred after the boy’s father had left for work. Houk’s two daughters, ages 7 and 4, also were in the house.

“No one, including police, even looked for footprints around the property,” Elisco argued Wednesday. “I don’t see any other remedy except the grant of a new trial.”

The court did not indicate when it would rule.

Brown initially was charged as an adult as required by state law in homicide cases. Details of the case then became part of the public record. His lawyers successfully appealed to Superior Court and the case was moved to juvenile court.

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Jordan Brown Case
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