New Castle News

Hot Topics

February 20, 2014

Jordan Brown, Five Years Later: What happened — and when

NEW CASTLE — 2009

•Feb. 20 — A pregnant Kenzie Marie Houk, 26, is killed in the New Beaver Borough farmhouse she shared with her daughters — Jenessa, 7, and Adalynn, 4 — her fiancé, Chris Brown, and his son, Jordan.

•Feb. 21 — Jordan Brown is charged with two counts of homicide. He is only 11 years old, but state law requires he be charged as an adult.

•March 2 — Jordan is lodged in the Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center in Erie after spending four days in a 10-foot-square cell at the Lawrence County jail and six days at a juvenile detention center in Beaver County.

•March 24 — Ten witnesses testify for the prosecution at Jordan’s preliminary hearing before District Judge David Rishel. All charges are held for court.

•May 5 — Jordan enters a not guilty plea at a formal arraignment.

•Oct. 4 — His defense attorneys ask the court to transfer the case to the juvenile justice system.

•December — Joshua Lamancusa, the county’s newly elected district attorney, reports a possible conflict of interest — and the Pennsylvania Bar Association agrees.

2010

•Jan. 14 — Anthony J. Krastek, Pennsylvania’s senior deputy attorney general, is named to handle the prosecution.

•Jan. 29 — Dr. Kirk Heilbrun, a forensic psychologist and expert on adolescent development, testifies at a hearing on transferring the case to the juvenile justice system. He said Jordan is amenable to rehabilitative counseling available through the juvenile system.

•March 12 — Dr. John O’Brien of Philadelphia, a forensic psychiatrist and lawyer, testifies at the continuation of the Jan. 29 hearing. He says Jordan is reluctant to take responsibility for his actions, which “complicates his ability to be rehabilitated.”

•March 18 — Amnesty International, an organization supporting human rights, shows interest in the case and concern that, if convicted, Jordan could be the youngest person in the nation sentenced to life in prison without parole.

•March 29 — Dominick Motto, Lawrence County Common Pleas Court president judge, rules Jordan’s case should not be transferred to juvenile court. He cites Heilbrun and O’Brien, who “agree that the first step towards rehabilitation is to take responsibility for the underlying offense.” Motto writes: “The court concludes it is not likely defendant can be rehabilitated prior to the expiration of the juvenile court jurisdiction.”

•May 3 — Motto grants permission for the defense to appeal his decision.

•July 28 — The Pennsylvania Superior Court agrees to hear the appeal.

•Sept. 13 — A friend of the court brief is filed on Jordan’s behalf by five organizations and three law professors, all legal experts and advocates for the juvenile justice system. They say if he is convicted as an adult, Jordan would be the youngest person in the nation sentenced to life in prison without parole.

2011

•Jan. 25 — The Pennsylvania Superior Court hears Lourdes Rosado, associate director of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, on Jordan’s behalf and Christopher Carusone, Pennsylvania’s chief deputy attorney general, for the commonwealth.

•March 11 — The Superior Court rules 2-1 against Motto’s decision to keep the case in criminal court. The judges send the case back to Lawrence County and order reconsideration or another hearing on the possibility of transferring the case to juvenile court.

•April 20 — Houk’s daughters spend her birthday without her — for the third time.

•Aug. 5 — Motto reconsiders arguments to move the case to juvenile court.

•Aug. 23 — Motto rules Jordan — who is a week away from turning 14 — will be tried as a juvenile.

•Sept. 15 — Lawrence County Common Pleas Court Judge John Hodge excludes the public — including the news media — from the hearing that will determine Jordan’s guilt or innocence.

•Sept. 20 — The New Castle News and two other newspapers file petitions to intervene and open the proceedings.

•Sept. 23 — Hodge rejects news media requests.

•Sept. 26 — The newspapers appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. The court stays the proceedings, pending disposition of the appeals.

•Oct. 28 — Defense attorney Dennis Elisco petitions the juvenile court to release Jordan, saying his continued detention without an adjudicatory hearing violates the Juvenile Act. However, Hodge says he does not believe he has the authority to release Jordan.

2012

•Jan. 10 — The newspapers’ appeal goes before the Superior Court.

•Feb. 22 — The Superior Court rules the proceedings will be kept closed.

•March 28 — The defense asks the Superior Court to release Jordan prior to the scheduling of his juvenile court hearing.

•April 3 — The Superior Court rules Hodge does have authority to release Jordan. Hodge conducts a hearing to consider that. The judge decides not to release the teen pending his hearing, which he schedules for the following week.

•April 10 — Hodge begins an adjudication hearing — the juvenile justice system’s equivalent of a trial in criminal court.

•April 13 — Hodge rules Jordan is delinquent. The delinquent determination is the juvenile system’s equivalent of a guilty verdict in criminal court.

•May 18 — Disposition, the juvenile system’s equivalent of sentencing, is announced. Jordan is to be sent to a juvenile facility in Chambersburg, Franklin County. The state’s juvenile justice system requires that youngsters being held have their case reviewed every six months.

•June 15 — The defense files notice of appeal.

•Nov. 2 — Jordan’s first six-month evaluation is conducted in Lawrence County courts. Hodge learns the Chambersburg facility does not want him. Officials there say he is not participating in counseling sessions.

•Nov. 29 — Hodge orders Jordan to be sent to George Junior Republic, a similar facility in Grove City, Mercer County.

2013

•May 8 — The Superior Court overturns Hodge’s determination that Jordan is responsible for the deaths. The Superior Court judges say the evidence presented was not sufficient for the verdict. The case is sent back to Lawrence County.

•May 22 — The commonwealth files application to the Superior Court, challenging the decision overturning Hodge’s ruling.

•July 22 — The Superior Court denies the application for reargument.

•Aug. 21 — The state attorney general’s office asks the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review the Superior Court decision overturning Hodge’s ruling on Jordan’s guilt.

•Dec. 30 — The state Supreme Court agrees to hear an appeal of the superior court decision.

2014

•Jan. 14 — The Supreme Court sets March 12 for the full seven-member panel to hear arguments in the case in Philadelphia. They will be asked to reinstate Hodge’s decision finding Jordan responsible for the deaths.

•Feb. 20 — It has been five years since Kenzie Houk and her unborn son were killed. Her daughters are now 9 and 12; Jordan is 16.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Hot Topics
  • Bobosky.jpg Gas holdouts unconvinced of safety

    When Suzanne Matteo and her husband, Martin, bought their house on four acres in Pulaski Township they had a plan. They would grow a huge vegetable garden, raise lots of flowers and a few chickens and enjoy the fresh air and quiet.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • gavel.jpg Anti fracking group waits for answer to its letter

    More than 20 state environmental groups are asking that March 25 and 26 hearings on proposed “forced pooling” be postponed. They say more time is necessary to allow members of the public to voice their opinions.
     

    March 18, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Hilcorp_Energy.jpg Hilcorp seeks to force drilling on reluctant landowners

    A hearing has been set on a request to force local landowners to allow gas and oil drilling. Hilcorp Corp., a Texas firm with multiple well pads in the area, is asking for the so-called “forced pooling.”

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • brown.jpg 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.

    March 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Casino.jpg Casino hearing date now official

    May 8 has been confirmed as the public hearing date for Lawrence Downs Casino and Racing Resort. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will hear from those who wish to comment on the casino license under consideration for the racetrack/casino complex planned for Mahoning Township.

    March 12, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Agreement to enhance Austintown track project

    Penn National Gaming announced Monday it has signed a key agreement regarding its Austintown race track and casino. The thoroughbred racing track, part of a facility that will include slots-like gambling machines, is scheduled to open in the fall, and the new agreement with the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association is being touted as “positive progress” in meeting that deadline.

    March 11, 2014

  • Vogler.jpg Public hearing for casino could be in spring

    The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board could turn its focus to Lawrence Downs Casino and Racing Resort this spring. Lawrence County Commissioner Dan Vogler, who attended the board’s meeting in Harrisburg this week, said he and staff members informally discussed a timetable for the upcoming public hearing on the gaming application submitted by Endeka Entertainment.

    March 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • brown.jpg 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.

    February 25, 2014 1 Photo 9 Stories

  • Elisco.jpg 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.

    February 24, 2014 1 Photo 8 Stories

  • 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.

    February 24, 2014

House Ads
Poll

Are you concerned enough about the Heartbleed bug on the Internet to change all of your social media and website passwords?

Yes. It’s always a good idea to change passwords regularly anyway. I just have so many, I’m not sure where to start.
No. From what I’ve read, companies are still trying to figure out how to fix the flaw. The bad guys will just have access to my NEW passwords, too.
Not sure, but I blame Al Gore. He invented the Internet, right? How’s he going to get us out of this mess?
     View Results