New Castle News


February 25, 2014

Our Opinion: After five years, Jordan Brown case continues — sadly for all

NEW CASTLE — It’s not unusual for newspapers to look back on major news events when key anniversaries come about.

So it was that the New Castle News has been running articles on the fifth anniversary of the 2009 slaying of Kenzie Houk, and the subsequent arrest of Jordan Brown for the crime.

This case — involving a young, pregnant woman who was killed in her bed and the 11-year-old son of her fiancé who was charged with the crime — was a major story in Lawrence County when it broke. In fact, it captured attention around the country and the world, mainly because of the age of the suspect and his arrest as an adult.

But the five-year retrospective in this instance is different than other old stories. Typically, these are looks into the past. The case of Jordan Brown is very much an ongoing saga, and one with no end in sight.

We have addressed this issue before. It is absolutely outrageous that five years on, Pennsylvania’s legal system is still dealing with this matter. Next month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear arguments in an appeal of a state Superior Court ruling in the case.

From there, we are not sure what will happen. The state’s highest court could confirm the Superior Court decision that overruled Lawrence County Common Pleas Court Judge John Hodge’s ruling that Jordan was responsible for the Houk shooting. If that happens, the case would return to Hodge for a rehearing.

Or the court could overturn the appeals court decision, meaning Jordan — now classified as a juvenile — would remain in state custody until he is 21.

There are perhaps other options for the Supreme Court to pursue, but how long will it take for the justices to issue a ruling? We note that it took more than four months for the Supreme Court just to decide to hear the case. That’s not an encouraging sign for a speedy resolution.

It is nothing short of appalling that an 11-year-old boy can be charged with homicide, and five years later the case is still rattling around the courts. You would hope that a sense of shame would have sunk into the commonwealth’s jurists by now, but the leisurely four months used by the Supreme Court to decide to hear the appeal in Jordan’s case tells us otherwise.

If the case winds up back in Lawrence County, we presume any proceedings again will be conducted behind closed doors, on the grounds Jordan is a juvenile and the commonwealth must protect him.

But the courts have done a tremendous disservice to Jordan Brown and Kenzie Houk, as well as their family members. Who will protect them from a legal system that operates as if it is disconnected from reality?

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Shooting.jpg Detroit area man dies in Ellwood City gunfire

    A triple shooting in an Ellwood City street has claimed the life of a Detroit area man. Gunfire erupted in the middle of Loop Street outside the Walnut Ridge housing project around 10:20 p.m. Sunday, according to state police.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Baptism1.jpg Dipped downtown

    John the Baptist identified himself as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’ ” On Saturday, local evangelist Randy Crum once again took a cue from the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah, eschewing the locusts and honey that John was known to munch on but heading out into the wilds to baptize believers and challenge them to share their faith with their community.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • lamancusa.jpg Tanner, district attorney: No comment

    The Lawrence County District Attorney is keeping mum about a probe into finances in Shenango Township. “We don’t talk about ongoing investigations,” Lamancusa said Friday.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo 5 Stories

  • Shenango1.jpg Shenango Township: Supervisors fire Tanner, release DeLorenzo

    The Shenango supervisors fired township secretary/treasurer Brian Tanner and terminated auditor and consultant Deno DeLorenzo last night.

    July 18, 2014 3 Photos 4 Stories

  • gavel.jpg Shenango to take action on Tanner, DeLorenzo

    Shenango’s supervisors will act Thursday night on the employment contracts of two men being investigated for possible theft of township funds.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo 4 Stories

  • money.jpg Shenango computers, financial papers seized

    Investigators have seized computers and a host of financial paperwork from the Shenango Township Municipal Building.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo 3 Stories

  • money.jpg Second warrant issued in Shenango Township finances probe

    The home office of Shenango Township’s secretary/treasurer is the subject of a search warrant. A warrant was approved allowing investigators from the Lawrence County district attorney’s office to search Brian Tanner’s home office at 658 Melody Lane Extension in Shenango and seize all computers and computer records.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Our Opinion: Who’s watching the money in Shenango Township?

    The Shenango Township supervisors have some explaining to do. And that’s putting it mildly.

    July 15, 2014 1 Story

  • Shenango places Tanner on leave, schedules meeting

    The Shenango Township supervisors have placed their secretary/treasurer on leave. In a statement faxed late Monday afternoon to the New Castle News, the supervisors said Brian Tanner had been placed on “administrative leave” as the result of a search warrant served on the township municipal building Friday.

    July 15, 2014

  • DROWN.jpg Local teen drowns in Slippery Rock Creek

    Divers from several fire departments responded yesterday to a drowning in the Kennedy Mill area of Slippery Rock Creek. Reports from the scene indicated that two teenage males from the Ellwood-Wampum area had gone swimming in the creek, and that one had gone under and not resurfaced.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 fell from the sky in Donetsk, Ukraine, on Thursday, killing all 298 people aboard. Many are speculating that Russian rebels (supported by Vladimir Putin) are responsible for downing the aircraft. What do you think?

Yes. All evidence points that way.
No. Everyone is so quick to point fingers, but there's not enough evidence to support claims of Russian guilt.
I'm not sure. I'll just wait until the investigation is over to make up my mind.
What is up with these Malaysian Airlines planes? I know one airline I won't be flying any time soon...
     View Results