NEW CASTLE —
Chris Brown ended three years of silence Thursday.
The father of 14-year-old Jordan Brown spoke of seeing his son charged with fatally shooting Kenzie Marie Houk, the woman he had planned to marry and who was about to give birth to a son who would share his name.
“Thirty-seven months is a long time,” he said. “The last three years have been surreal.”
After two days of testimony, Brown said, he is more convinced than ever of his son’s innocence.
“There is no evidence tying my son to that crime,” he said. “The commonwealth painted a theory but they could not prove my son is responsible for the homicides.”
Brown declined to repeat what he had said on the witness stand Wednesday but stressed, ”I wanted to get to the truth: Jordan loved Kenzie. There was no animosity in our family.
“There’s been a lot of talk in the last 37 months, but we chose to take the high road and not speak to the media.
“Jordan loved Kenzie. He still does and he misses her.
“Now this is in the judge’s hands. Hopefully (he) does the right thing and finds that Jordan is not responsible.”
The past three years have been challenging for the man whose beard and temples are tinged with gray.
“Jordan was an 11-year-old child when he was wrongfully accused of a double homicide of the woman he loved as his mother,” Brown said.
“He was taken from his bed at 3 a.m., lodged in the Lawrence County jail for a week with adults and in the detention center for 37 months — all because they had a theory.”
Brown said he believes the evidence presented this week clears his son.
“There was no gunshot residue, no blood, no DNA, no fingerprints. They could not put the gun into his hand. It’s all circumstantial evidence. There is a lot of speculation and conjecture.”
He and defense attorney Dennis Elisco noted Lawrence County Judge John W. Hodge listened attentively and took copious notes during the trial.
Brown said he has no long-range plans has for his son and himself, should Jordan be released.
“We’ve concentrated on this week’s hearing,” he said, but added he would like to see Jordan playing football in the fall.
If Jordan is released, he will need counseling to help him to deal with what has happened to him, Brown noted.
“The only counseling that he has had is what I’ve been able to provide.”
He said he has seen changes in his son in the past three years.
On the day of his arrest, Jordan stood 4 feet, 9 inches tall and weighed 116 pounds. He is now about 6 feet tall and close to 180 pounds.
Brown said Jordan has undergone emotional changes too, “but I’m no expert in that field.”
Although the boy has received good care in the Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center, where he has lived since March 2, 2009, Brown said, his son’s schooling has been limited.
“They are not on a high school level and he’s fallen behind where he should be.”
He added that despite a peer group of accused juvenile offenders for the past three years, and having been raised on a farm without urban survival skills, Jordan has done well.
“Jordan is a good kid, contrary to rumor, speculations and innuendo,” Brown said.
“Jordan has no mental health issues and has never been a problem child. There is no motive. This is what (prosecutor Anthony) Krastek said to the judge — ‘There is no motive, but if not (Jordan) then who?’”
RUSH TO JUDGMENT
Elisco noted his then-11-year-old client was charged with a double homicide only seventeen and a half hours after the crime was committed.
Had the police not focused on Jordan, he said, they might have found the real killer.
“But they rushed to judgment. They put blinders on and never looked for anyone else.”
Elisco said he called the prosecution’s chief investigator, Cpl. Jeffrey Martin, as a witness to highlight the evidence the prosecution had failed to provide.
“There was no DNA, no fingerprints on the shotgun. There was a fingerprint on one of three shells found outside.”
He said traces of gunshot residue were found on Jordan’s shirt and pants, but his coat never was tested.
Brown said the police were told he and his son had attended a turkey shoot the week before, where more than 300 guns had been fired indoors.
“Even their expert said there would be no way (residue) could not have been on clothes,” Elisco said.
In addition, Jordan’s hands were never checked for residue.
Brown said police did check his hands and those of one of Kenzie Houk’s former boyfriends, who had been considered as a suspect but later rejected.
Asked who killed his fiancée, Brown had no answer.
“That is something for the investigators to figure out.”
He declined to share his thoughts about mourning the loss of his unborn son and future wife.
“I am a very private person,” he said. “I have dealt with things in my way.”
He said he feels bad for the Houk family, who he said has been strung along by investigators who told them they were 100 percent sure Jordan was responsible.
“This has divided two families.”
Brown said he has tried many times to visit Houk’s daughters, Jenessa and Adalynn, who both had called him Daddy.
“They have said I don’t care, but it is not true. I have tried, more than a dozen times — even contacting former district attorney John Bongivengo — to see the girls, but they didn’t want that to happen. We had been a close family.”
(Contact Nancy Lowry at (724) 654-6651, extension 623, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
NEW CASTLE —
Chris Brown ended three years of silence Thursday.
- TOP STORIES
Police arrest four in Union Township drug raid
Four people were arrested and drugs and a gun were confiscated Wednesday when police raided a house in Union Township. Union Township police, with the Lawrence County District Attorney’s Drug Task Force and New Castle police special response team and narcotics unit, served a sealed search warrant at 27 Spring St. just before 6:30 a.m.
Primary 2013: Former superintendent earns New Castle board nomination
Voters nominated four candidates for four-year terms in each of Lawrence County’s eight school districts yesterday. New Castle and Ellwood City had candidates running on one ballot only, but all others crossfiled, meaning they appeared on both Republican and Democratic ballots.
Primary 2013 Briefs: Voters stay home in droves
Less than one-fifth of Lawrence County’s eligible voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary. The Lawrence County Board of Elections reported that 9,291 — or 17.1 percent — of the 54,342 eligible voters turned out Tuesday.
Primary 2013: Former mayor wins city council nomination
New Castle City Council will have three new members next year as a result of Tuesday’s primary. Tim Fulkerson and Anthony J. Adamo won the two Democratic nominations for four-year terms.
Primary 2013: Township voters nominate supervisors, auditors, tax collectors
Voters selected their candidates for township offices in Lawrence County Tuesday. Voters in all 16 townships will elect one supervisor each to six-year terms.
Lawrence County Primary 2013
The New Castle News is covering the 2013 primary in Lawrence County with stories, photo galleries and video clips from local polling places.
Primary 2013: Six candidates seeking City Council nominations
Six Democratic candidates are seeking their party’s nominations for three seats in Tuesday’s primary. Voters will nominate two candidates on both Republican and Democratic ballots for four-year terms and one candidate for a two-year term.
New Castle Schools: District answers two state audit findings
New Castle school district administration answered two of the findings in a state auditor general’s preliminary report. The audit, which has not yet been finalized, covered the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years. The preliminary report also contains an observation, which the district answered.
New Castle Schools: Finding pinpoints nonpaying out-of-district pupils
New Castle school board members are waiting for the final determinations of a state audit that contained three preliminary findings. Earlier this month the board publicly discussed those findings from the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, and the district administration has responded to two of them to the Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General.
Photo Gallery, Story: Ceremony remembers fallen officers
Last year there were 12. This year, there are 13. The law enforcement community paused Thursday to remember Lawrence County’s fallen officers in a ceremony outside the New Castle police station.
- More TOP STORIES Headlines
- Police arrest four in Union Township drug raid