New Castle News

August 22, 2013

State Supreme Court asked to review Jordan Brown case

Nancy Lowry
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has been asked to review a lower court’s ruling that overturned the conviction of Jordan Brown.

Defense attorneys do not believe the case will be heard.

On April 13, 2012, Lawrence County Juvenile Court Judge John W. Hodge ruled that Jordan was responsible for the deaths of his father’s pregnant fiancée, Kenzie Marie Houk, 26, and her unborn child.

Houk was found shot in the back of the head at the New Beaver Borough farmhouse she shared with Jordan, his father and her two daughters.

Jordan, 15, was 11 at the time of the Feb. 20, 2009, incident.

He was arrested the following morning and charged originally as an adult with two counts of criminal homicide.

He has been in a juvenile facility, where he could remain until his 21st birthday.

Following his conviction, defense attorneys appealed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. In May, the Superior Court overturned the conviction and sent the case back to county juvenile court.

The appeal by the office of the attorney general is the final step, according to defense attorney Dennis Elisco.

Yesterday, he said, was the deadline for the commonwealth to appeal to the Superior Court’s order that sent the case back to the county.

“They have asked the Supreme Court to review the overturning of the guilty verdict. We don’t expect the Supreme Court will hear the appeal,” Elisco said.

He said the defense has 14 days to answer the appeal.

“We will file an answer,” he said.

In his filing, James P. Barker, chief deputy attorney general, yesterday challenged the Superior Court’s opinion that the weight of evidence did not support Hodge’s ruling and that evidence on record does not support critical factual findings.

Barker argues evidence presented at the juvenile court hearing did support Hodge’s ruling and that any other ruling “would offend one’s sense of justice.”

Debbie Houk, the victim’s mother, said she had been informed of the appeal.

“It needed to be done,” she said, adding, “Maybe the people in the higher court will listen.”

Houk, who was present throughout the juvenile court proceedings said she heard evidence presented and concludes that Hodge’s ruling could have been nothing other than what it was.

“In four years the defense has brought forth no evidence to say that it could have been anyone other than Jordan (responsible for the deaths),” she said.

The commonwealth, she said, “presented everything, the shell casing, his clothing, his gun. There were no tracks other than the children’s tracks leading from the house.

“These are the facts,” she said. “I can only go on the facts that I have heard. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I can only go on the facts. I believe no one else could have been responsible.”