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November 5, 2012

Jordan Brown Case: Observers comment on teen’s first treatment review

NEW CASTLE — Kenzie Houk’s family and friends fear Jordan Brown is not receiving the help he was promised.

After Friday’s evaluation hearing, the father and sister of the woman Jordan had been found responsible for killing expressed concerns the teen may be a victim of abuse perpetrated by the system, his family and defense counsel.

Jack Houk and Jennifer Kraner said advice from those closest to Jordan has robbed him of opportunities for rehabilitation.

Jordan, 15, was determined to be responsible for the Feb. 20, 2009, shooting deaths of his father’s pregnant fiancée, Kenzie Marie Houk, and her unborn child.

He was 11 at the time and has been in custody since then.

In May, Lawrence County Judge John W. Hodge ordered Jordan to a juvenile facility for treatment.

The law requires the case to be reviewed every six months by the judge who made the disposition — the juvenile court equivalent of a sentence. These reviews are required to determine if the youth is receiving adequate treatment.

Friday was the first review of the case.

The defense has appealed the judge’s delinquency finding to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania and is waiting to learn if that court will hear the appeal. The commonwealth’s brief is due Monday.

“The psychologist said he’s not responsive,” Kraner said. “He said he’s been standing strong for so long — saying nothing at the request of his attorneys — he may no longer know what happened.”

Because Jordan is a juvenile, the evaluation was closed to the public. In addition to Kenzie Houk’s father and sister, family friend Janet Fulkerson attended the session. Kenzie Houk’s mother, Debbie Houk, is ill and could not attend.

Jordan’s father, Chris Brown, his grandmother Janice Brown Myers and Chris Brown’s aunt, Cynthia Wiseman, also were present, as were defense attorney Dennis Elisco and senior deputy attorney general Anthony J. Krastek, on the prosecution side.

“The psychologist at the facility where he has been placed said he has not opened up,” Kraner said. “They tested his IQ and said he is functioning at college level in his learning abilities and he has no mental problems.

“They said he’s very smart. He just won’t open up and talk about his feelings. The doctor said he asked Jordan if he felt stressed, anxious, depressed, angry but he just won’t answer.

“I’m sorry for him,’ Jack Houk said. “I said when he was placed that I was glad that he was going somewhere where he could get treatment. But from what they said, he’s not getting any help.”

Kraner said only two people testified at the hearing. The psychologist, Dr. Ronald Sharp, and a representative of the Lawrence County Juvenile Probation department.

“We have waited for four years for him to get into a place for treatment,” Kraner said.

Debbie Houk said Sunday she has spoken with family members about the hearing.

“We’re all upset,” she said. “They said he’s showing no emotion, no remorse. He’s still calling the shots and everyone around him is still babying him. Another six months has gone by and he has still had no treatment.”

Fulkerson, who attended the hearing, said she believes the boy is not amenable to rehabilitation.

“The facility now housing Jordan said he has been polite, has not been written up, but said it sees no reason to keep him if no relationship can be developed between him and the staff,” she said. “They said it is not fair to the other children (in treatment) who are trying.”

 She said there will be a hearing later this month to determine if Jordan will be moved to another facility. She said Hodge will review the report and requests of juvenile probation that Jordan be subjected to a polygraph.

An attempt to reach Elisco was not successful.


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