NEW CASTLE —
Kenzie Houk’s parents are devastated — again.
The first time was when she was fatally shot in February, 2009.
The second time was Wednesday, when they learned of a ruling by the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
A three-judge panel overturned the decision of Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge John Hodge, who had found Jordan Brown responsible for the 26-year-old Houk’s death.
“We’re devastated,” her mother Debbie Houk said. “I don’t know what we’re going to do. We’re very upset.”
Following a juvenile court hearing last spring, Jordan, now 15, was found to have been responsible for the deaths of Houk — his father’s fiancée — and her unborn child.
He was ordered to a juvenile facility for treatment. His case is to be reviewed every six months by the trial judge who determines whether he should continue treatment or be released. The process continues until he is released or turns 21. The next review is scheduled for June 19.
However, the appeals court’s ruling orders the case back to the county and opens the possibility of a new trial.
Kenzie Houk’s father Jack said he does not look forward to another trial and the stress it will put on his family.
Although the appeals court said the evidence presented does not support the judge’s finding, the Houks are confident the police arrested the correct person.
“All of this is so unnecessary,” Debbie Houk said, adding, “I don’t want to go through this a second time.”
She said the ruling is hurting both her family and Jordan.
“No one cares to help him,” she said. “This will only hurt him. It will not help him to get better.”
In addition to putting herself and her husband through the pain of another trial, she said, Kenzie’s 12-year-old daughter Jenessa — who was 7 at the time of the shooting — may be required to testify.
Houk, who is raising Jenessa and her 8-year-old sister, said she has not spoken with her about the case. The girls, she said, are in counseling for the loss of their mother.
“But this will require a lot more if she has to testify,” Houk said. “Everyone considers what is best for Jordan but what about the little girls? They are not considered.”
Houk said she has no reason to believe a second trial will yield a different outcome.
“Two people are dead and there is no one else,” she said. “We’ve had forensics, the best there is. I don’t doubt what they had to say. He knew what to do and he did it. There was no one else there. It is time to pay for what he did.
“I sometimes wonder about what went on. Did she feel anything? What about the baby, so close to being born, did he struggle when his oxygen was cut off?”
Houk said she wants to get on with as normal a life as possible with her granddaughters.
When the ruling came down, she said, she followed through with plans to attend a mother-daughter dinner with her mother.
“I’ll never be able to attended such a Mother’s Day dinner with my daughter Kenzie,” she said, “and her daughters will never have another Mother’s Day with their mother.
“Sometimes it seems like yesterday that she was here. I’ve filled the void in their lives but I’ll never be a mommy to them,” she said of her granddaughters.
“Their mother was taken from them and so was their grandma. I can’t enjoy them as my grandchildren if I’m the one raising them.
“I don’t ask for pity, but it’s not easy.”
NEW CASTLE —
Kenzie Houk’s parents are devastated — again.
- TOP STORIES
Photo Gallery, Story: Community Easter morning service
There’s a reason why most holidays last only 24 hours. It’s because when you’re finished celebrating, there’s still work to be done. The Rev. David Young reminded everyone who attended Sunday’s community Easter morning service at Lawrence Village Plaza of that.
Retirements, attrition to save district money
A slew of retirements in the New Castle School District may result in savings in the 2014-15 budget. The school district plans to introduce its spending plan next month.
No Retreat: Teacher’s golden retriever proves to be a hero, fighter
It was last fall, and my favorite time of the year to be in the woods hunting. On this day, I could hunt small game and turkey, though my primary purpose was a hike in the woods with my dog, Maggie. This year was special. I also had my five-month-old golden retriever, Remi.
Firefighters respond to gas leak
New Castle firefighters responded to a gas leak Friday at the former Lincoln-Garfield school on Long Avenue. Assistant Fire Chief Mike Petrone said Columbia Gas received a call from someone in the 800 block of South Mercer Street about the smell of gas Friday morning.
City residents register complaints about ATVs
Some North Hill residents expressed annoyance and frustration over youngsters recklessly operating all-terrain vehicles through their neighborhoods.
Emotional Closure: Woman sentenced in Jerry McCarthy’s death
The driver of the car that killed a Shenango Township policeman is heading to prison. Kylee Gwen Barletto, 26, apologized Wednesday to the family of William J. “Jerry” McCarthy and to her family after pleading guilty to eight of 16 charges against her.
Fire marshal probes cause of blaze
A city police fire marshal said he hasn’t ruled yet on a blaze that ravaged two Taylor Street houses. Chris Fabian, who was at the fire scene for the duration Monday morning, said the blaze that displaced three families started in the back of a yellow, two-story duplex at 602 Taylor St.
Pennsylvania won’t take action on quakes
Pennsylvania officials plan no action despite new Ohio rules on drilling that affect a seismically active area near the state line.
Photo Gallery, Story: Crowds of anglers still turned out for opening day of trout season
Saturday morning marked the beginning of the Pennsylvania trout season. Locally, many anglers took to the county’s rivers and streams, eager to get started. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stocked lakes and streams with 3.2 million adult brook, brown and rainbow trout.
Levar Ware’s Story, Part 2: After getting his life back on track, senior ready to tackle college next
Second of two parts: Even when Levar Ware was at his lowest, people recognized the quality of his character. Some, like Andy Tommelleo, former director of the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center, went the extra mile because of it.
- More TOP STORIES Headlines
- Photo Gallery, Story: Community Easter morning service