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January 7, 2010

Jordan Brown's lawyers seek witness statements

Attorneys for a 12-year-old boy charged with homicide are seeking information regarding a key witness.

A motion filed in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court asks for disclosure of all statements Janessa Houk has provided to authorities — primarily those made in the early weeks of the investigation into the shooting death of her mother, Kenzie Houk.

Jordan Brown, who was 11 at the time, is charged with shooting a pregnant Houk as she lay on her bed Feb. 20. The 26-year-old shared the New Beaver Borough home with her fiancée, Chris Brown, his son Jordan and her two daughters.

As the result of the investigation, which reportedly included statements from Janessa Houk — who was 7 when the shooting occurred — Jordan was charged with two counts of homicide in the death of Houk and her unborn child.

David H. Acker and Dennis A. Elisco, Jordan’s attorneys, describe Janessa as “perhaps the most critical witness in this case.”

Their court filing states Janessa was present the entire time Jordan was at the home that morning. According to the attorneys, her original two statements to police indicated she noticed nothing unusual.

Yet they said that after Janessa went to live with her mother’s family, she provided a third statement to authorities. In it, the girl said she had heard a shotgun blast before she and Jordan had left the house to catch a school bus.

Their motion notes she did not testify at Jordan’s preliminary hearing March 29. However she was at the courthouse that day, they said, where she was interviewed by “members of the district attorney’s office and possibly members of the Pennsylvania state police” prior to the hearing.

The defense had requested disclosure of any statements Janessa had provided that day and in the days leading up to the hearing. But the district attorney’s office turned down the request on the grounds nothing Janessa has said had been put down in writing.

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