New Castle News

Hot Topics

May 9, 2013

Appeals court overturns Jordan Brown ruling

NEW CASTLE — A Pennsylvania appeals court has overturned the Jordan Brown decision in Lawrence County.

As a result, a new juvenile proceeding will be needed for the now-15-year-old accused in the 2009 shooting death of his father’s pregnant fiancée, Kenzie Houk.

In a decision filed Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Superior Court overturned the 2012 delinquency ruling by Lawrence County Judge John Hodge.

A determination of delinquency in a juvenile proceeding is the equivalent of a guilty verdict in adult court.

In its ruling, the appeals court decided Hodge’s decision was contrary to the evidence presented at Jordan’s adjudication hearing. The appeals court also ordered Jordan’s case returned to the local court for “further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

The Superior Court acted on the appeal of Jordan’s attorneys, Stephen Colafella and Dennis Elisco, who argued the evidence presented at Jordan’s juvenile hearing in April of last year was insufficient to support the finding that he was responsible for the shooting.

In particular, the court noted that an alleged key witness against Jordan, Houk’s daughter Janessa (who was 7 at the time of the shooting), did not testify in the juvenile proceeding. The appeals panel also saw problems with the lack of physical evidence linking Jordan to the crime, including a limited amount of gunpowder residue on his clothing and the lack of blood on Jordan and the shotgun he owned that police said had been used in the killing.

In addition, the appeals court was critical of Hodge’s determination that no other individual could have been responsible for the shooting.

The 30-page opinion was an extensive review of the Jordan Brown case.

The matter bounced around Lawrence County courts for more than three years, mainly over legal questions of Jordan’s status. Despite being 11 at the time of the shooting, Jordan was immediately charged as an adult, as required by Pennsylvania law.

Eventually, after the case was reviewed by the Pennsylvania Superior Court, Lawrence County President Judge Dominick Motto transferred Jordan’s proceedings to juvenile court in August 2011.

Until that time, court activities involving Jordan were public. But testimony in his juvenile case was conducted behind closed doors. Prior to the Superior Court’s opinion, no official details were released about testimony at those proceedings.

And in reviewing the record, the Superior Court took exception to Hodge’s determination of the evidence, declaring in repeated instances that his findings were broader than justified by the evidence.

It concluded that Hodge had “committed a palpable abuse of discretion in rendering a ruling that is plainly contrary to the evidence.”

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Hot Topics
  • Our Opinion: New study suggests problem with some state shale gas wells

    A recent study of leaks from shale gas wells raises more questions than it answers. And because of the growing presence of shale gas wells in Pennsylvania, it’s essential that both government and industry provide clarity.

    July 9, 2014

  • 08.jpg Gaming board asked to take a chance here

    Lawrence County deserves a chance, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board was Thursday. All seven board members, their staff, hearing officer Linda Lloyd and 200 to 225 others attended the board’s public hearing at the Mahoning Township Community Center.

    May 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Casino.jpg Area residents, groups to speak at casino hearing

    Some 55 individuals and organizations have registered to speak tomorrow at the Lawrence Downs Casino and Racing Resort Public Input Hearing. The list was released yesterday by the Pennsylvania Gaming Board, which will conduct the hearing at 10 a.m. at the Community Center in Mahoning Township on Route 224.

    May 7, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Austintown racing complex anticipates fall opening

    Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course will open in the fall. No specific date has been set, but work is progressing on several fronts on 186 acres in Austintown, Ohio. The site — less than 30 miles from New Castle — is accessible from Ohio Routes 46 and 11 and Interstate 80.

    May 7, 2014

  • gavel.jpg Holdout property owners file for injunction

    Holdout landowners are asking Commonwealth Court to declare that forced pooling violates the state constitution.

    May 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • gavel.jpg Holdout landowners retain Pittsburgh attorney; ask hearings be postponed

    A Pittsburgh attorney is asking that next month’s hearings on forced pooling be postponed. Atty. Omar Abuhejleh also filed a motion with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Friday allowing the affected landowners to formally intervene in the case filed by Hilcorp Energy Co.

    April 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dangers of fracking the topic at Villa Maria

    Public health concerns about fracking must be addressed, a nurse practitioner told approximately 150 people at Villa Maria on Thursday.

    April 26, 2014

  • 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

House Ads
Poll

Do you talk to yourself when you're alone?

Yes, but I’m basically just thinking out loud.
No, that would be weird.
I don’t know. Next time I’m alone, I’ll ask.
     View Results