NEW CASTLE —
Contrary to belief, Brown said, his guns had not been lying around the house.
“I’m a responsible father. My guns were not accessible to the children.”
His weapons — which included hunting rifles, shotguns, pistols and a muzzle-loader — were usually stored in the back of a closet in the downstairs bedroom Brown and Houk shared, he noted. None was loaded, he said, and ammunition was stored separately in an armoire drawer in the bedroom, and in a pistol safe, also in the armoire.
Brown said the couple was anticipating swapping bedrooms with Jordan, to be closer to the upstairs nursery, and some items, including the guns, had been moved a few days earlier.
He said Jordan, under his supervision, was learning to shoot. The two practiced in the yard at their farmhouse.
“I’m a hunter,” he said. “I’d estimate 80 percent of all homes in Lawrence County have multiple firearms.”
At Jordan’s preliminary hearing, state troopers testified guns had been found stacked in Jordan’s upstairs bedroom. They said one smelled as if it had been fired recently.
Another piece of evidence, a spent gun shell said to be in pristine condition, was found in the yard.
“It was 90 feet from the driveway the kids ran down to catch the school bus that morning and found under ice and snow-covered leaves,” Brown said, adding, “I don’t think I could have thrown a shell that far.”
Brown said the defense’s theory of what happened involves one of Kenzie’s former boyfriends, who had threatened her and her family members, prompting her to take out a protection from abuse order against him. Brown claimed police did not pursue that avenue.
‘THAT IS A SHAME’
In the years since the shooting, Brown said, he has tried to see Houk’s daughters, who had called him Daddy.
“I was turned down every time I asked,” he said. “I fear that early on the prosecution drove a wedge between us. I fear that is unrepairable.”
Brown said he has seen anger, hate and grief directed at his son and him.
“That is a shame. I feel they were misled.”
Within a day or two of the incident, Brown said, and without evidence to support it, police told the Houks they were 100 percent sure that Jordan had done it.
“From that moment on, they were convinced Jordan was responsible and there is no other possibility. They don’t realize that I’m a victim of this too. I lost everything.”