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April 13, 2012

Judge to rule on Jordan Brown case Friday

NEW CASTLE — Lawrence County Judge John Hodge will announce the fate of Jordan Brown at 2 p.m. Friday.

The judge is expected to issue his finding from the bench in the courtroom where prosecutor Anthony J. Krastek, senior deputy attorney general, and defense attorneys Dennis Elisco and Stephen Colafella presented evidence in the juvenile adjudication case.

A finding is the juvenile court equivalent of a verdict. The judge will announce if Jordan, 14, has been adjudicated a delinquent — the equivalent of guilty — or if charges will be dismissed.

If found to be delinquent, a disposition, or sentence, will be imposed within 20 days. He could be placed in a facility for treatment where he could be held until he turns 21. In the meantime, he will remain in the Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center in Erie.

If charges are dismissed, Jordan will be released to the custody of his father, Chris Brown.

As with the hearing itself, Hodge’s announcement will be made privately, with no media, no public and only immediate family members present. The actual order also may be sealed because it involves a juvenile.

Jordan is charged in the Feb. 20, 2009, shooting of his father’s pregnant fiancée, Kenzie Marie Houk, 26. The two lived in New Beaver Borough with Jordan’s father and Houk’s two daughter.

An 11-year-old at the time of the shooting, Jordan was charged as an adult with two counts of homicide. The case was since transferred to juvenile court.

“All that’s left to do is sit and pray and hope,” Jack Houk, Kenzie Houk’s father, said as he left the courthouse Thursday.

Houk said he and his wife, Debbie, would have preferred the case to have remained in criminal court, where adult cases are handled, which might have resulted in a sentence of life imprisonment for Jordan.

“If he goes into treatment, he’ll be released by age 21,” Jack Houk said. “But that is what we’re hoping for, that the boy gets the help that he needs.”

Asked how he would like to see the case concluded, Houk did not hesitate.

“I’d like to see Chris Brown charged for leaving guns around,” he said. “After this is all over, I’d like to see him in jail — if that can happen.”

Kenzie’s mother, Debbie Houk, echoed her husband’s desire to have seen Jordan sentenced to jail.

“This isn’t over yet,” she said. “I’m not happy with the way things went and I’d like to see the police charge Chris for giving his son access to guns.”

Debbie Houk wept when asked why she visits the cemetery daily and what she says to her daughter.

“This was my baby,” she said. “I go to see her and her baby and say ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry I couldn’t have helped you.’”

Following the shooting, the Houks said, they spoke with one of Kenzie’s former boyfriends, who allegedly had threatened their daughter.

“He was considered a suspect for a while, but we don’t believe he did it.”

(Contact Nancy Lowry at (724) 654-6651, extension 623, or email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)

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