New Castle News

Hot Topics

April 4, 2012

Judge says no to releasing Jordan Brown; hearing set for Tuesday

NEW CASTLE — Jordan Brown will not be released.

Lawrence County Judge John W. Hodge Tuesday rejected arguments of defense attorney Dennis Elisco to release the boy pending his hearing. Hodge set Tuesday as the hearing date.

As a result, the 14-year-old will remain in the Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center in Erie. He has been there since March 2, 2009.

Jordan is charged with two counts of homicide in the shooting of his father’s pregnant fiancée, Kenzie Marie Houk, 26, on Feb. 20, 2009. He was 11 at the time.

In a closed courtroom with only attorneys, three witnesses and both sides’ immediate family, the judge considered Elisco’s arguments to free Jordan and those of senior deputy attorney general Anthony J. Krastek to keep him in custody pending his juvenile hearing.

Jordan also was in the courtroom.

His attorneys, Elisco and Stephen Colafella of Beaver County, maintain his three years in custody is in violation to his constitutional right to a speedy trial, and contrary to Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Act, which requires the equivalent to a trial to be conducted within 10 days of a petition being filed against a child.

Jordan originally was charged as an adult. After years of legal wrangling, his case was transferred to juvenile court on Aug. 23. A hearing before Hodge was scheduled for Sept. 27, but on Sept. 15, the judge excluded the news media and public from the proceedings. The New Castle News and two other newspapers petitioned to open the hearings, which Hodge denied. They appealed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, which ruled Feb. 22 the proceedings would be closed.

Tuesday, Houk’s mother Debbie Houk said she had anticipated being called as a witness, but was not. She said the witnesses were two juvenile probation officers and David Acker, Jordan’s former defense attorney.

She said Acker testified that after the case was sent to juvenile court, the defense waived Jordan’s detention hearing.

Under the juvenile law, detention hearings are conducted within 72 hours of a child being taken into custody. They are to determine if the juvenile will remain in custody. At the time, Acker said the defense had waived the hearing because of the seriousness of the offense.

Houk also said Jordan is expected to be housed in the Lawrence County jail during next week’s trial.

Tuesday’s hour-long hearing was in Courtroom No. 1. News media gathered were barred from the second floor where the courtrooms are.

Lawrence County Sheriff Perry Quahliero, who stood at the top of the stairs, said he was trying to maintain order and was concerned members of the Houk and Brown families would become emotional if questioned by the media.

After the session, Colafella said the hearing was to resolve the question of Jordan’s detention.

“He’s been detained way too long.”

Colafella said the defense requested Jordan’s immediate release to the custody of his father, Chris Brown.

Noting Jordan is now well over 6 feet tall, he said, “He’s grown physically, but not emotionally, due to where he is.

“His situation is complicated, unusual and unfortunate.”

The Erie facility, Colafella said, is a temporary holding center.

“While he is safe there, he hasn’t received counseling and teaching that he’s needed and hasn’t forged relationships.

“We need to get something going. We are prepared to go to trial.”

Colafella said he will handle Tuesday’s hearing.

He said no testimony regarding Jordan’s alleged responsibility in the shooting was given Tuesday, adding both sides are anticipating a quick resolution.

Because Jordan was ordered to remain in custody, Colafella explained, the hearing had to be scheduled within 10 days.

“We — both sides — were ready to go in September,” he said. “Then the news media intervened. We hadn’t anticipated that would delay things for six months.”

(Email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)

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

Milwaukee catcher Martin Maldonado has been suspended five games for sucker punching Pittsburgh’s Travis Snider during a bench clearing brawl on Sunday. You OK with that suspension?

Yes. Seems fair.
No. Baseball NEVER gets it right in these situations. Should have been at least 20 games for his sucker punch into a pile of players.
Not sure, but I’d love to see baseball be like hockey and allow two guys to fight for a while before breaking it up. Let’s see how tough Maldonado is then.
     View Results