New Castle News

Hot Topics

March 29, 2012

Jordan Brown may be released; decision could come this week

NEW CASTLE — Jordan Brown could be free — even briefly — pending his day in juvenile court.

Defense attorney Dennis Elisco Wednesday asked a three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court to release his 14-year-old client until a juvenile court hearing is scheduled.

The court promised a speedy ruling — possibly by tomorrow.

Jordan is charged with two counts of homicide following the death of his father’s pregnant fiancée, Kenzie Marie Houk, 26. She was fatally shot Feb. 20, 2009, in the New Beaver Borough farmhouse she shared with Jordan, then 11, his father and her two daughters.

Jordan, charged as an adult the next day, has been in the Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center in Erie since March 2, 2009.

After two and a half years of legal wrangling, the case was transferred to juvenile court Aug. 23.

A hearing was scheduled for September and Lawrence County Judge John W. Hodge ordered proceedings closed, as is traditional in juvenile court matters.

When three newspapers, including the New Castle News, appealed the closing to the state superior court, Elisco filed a motion seeking Jordan’s temporary release. That hearing was conducted Wednesday.

Elisco is asking the appeals court to order Jordan’s release, saying continued detention violates the state juvenile act. In his appeal, Elisco said that under the act, if a petition is filed alleging a child to be dependent or delinquent, the court must schedule a hearing within 10 of the filing or release the child from custody.

He said he is pleased with Wednesday’s proceedings, heard by Judges Christine L. Donohue, Anne E. Lazarus and Paula Francisco Ott.

Elisco said Ott, a juvenile court judge for 18 years, called the case “troubling.”

“She asked if he was getting treatment, schooling,” Elisco said.

Ideally, he said, the court will order Jordan to be released pending the scheduling of a hearing.

“This is what we want, but we have no guarantee that they will do this. But if Jordan is ordered released, as we hope, we will have 60 days to schedule a hearing.”

If Jordan is not ordered released, Elisco continued, a delinquency hearing must he scheduled before Hodge within 10 days.

The judges said Hodge could have held the detention hearing last month after an appeals court panel rejected the newspapers’ petition to open proceedings, Colafella noted.

“But Hodge said the appeals court had jurisdiction and he couldn’t act.”

Debbie Houk, Kenzie’s mother, said she is hopeful the case will get under way soon.

“The judges said they may hand down a ruling by Friday,” she said. “I hope they do. I see no reason not to start.”

But she doesn’t think the judges will give Elisco what he is asking.

“They said he will have 30 days to appeal their ruling,” she said. “They said if he notifies the prothonotary’s office that he will not appeal, the case won’t be held up and the hearing can be scheduled for early April.”

Senior Deputy Attorney General Anthony J. Krastek, who will prosecute the case in juvenile court, said he is prepared to proceed immediately.

“From what I understand, they intend to rule quickly and to direct us to act quickly.”

Krastek said he is prepared to do just that.

Attorney Steve Colafella of Monaca, new to the defense team, said Hodge has asked to meet Thursday with all attorneys involved in the case.

“I expect that we’ll be discussing possible scenarios,” he said. “Whenever happens, we will have options to consider.”

Colafella said he has met with Jordan in Erie.

“He’s having a hard time understanding the protracted legal wranglings but he’s coping as well as he can.

“He’s anxious. He’s just a kid.”


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

When will you start mowing your grass?

Been there, done that
Probably this week
Not until May
You mean, when will I HIRE someone to mow my grass?
     View Results