New Castle News
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)