Lawrence County boy's homicide case may be retried
By Chris Togneri
Published: Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:08 p.m.
A Lawrence County boy who was 11 when police charged him with fatally shooting his father's pregnant fiancée might soon be retried.
The state Superior Court on Wednesday vacated a juvenile court judge's decision that Jordan Brown was responsible for killing Kenzie Marie Houk, 26, and her unborn baby as she watched television while lying in bed in February 2009.
Judge John Hodge last year ruled Brown delinquent, the juvenile court equivalent of a guilty verdict. The appeals court sent the case back to juvenile court, writing that Hodge's decision was “clearly contrary to the evidence.”
At issue was whether prosecutors proved that only Brown and his two young stepsisters were in the house when Houk was killed, making them the only possible shooters. Hodge ruled they were, based on testimony from a tree-cutter who said he saw only the kids' footprints in fresh snow on the driveway.
That did not discount the possibility of footprints elsewhere on the property, the Superior Court said.
“The juvenile court appears to have mistakenly concluded that no footprints existed based upon the absence of any testimony regarding the condition of the snow,” the ruling states.
Brown's attorney, Dennis Elisco, said he and co-defender Stephen Colafella are “trying to figure out what our options are” and whether a retrial will be scheduled.
Houk's mother, Deb Houk, said her family is “definitely upset.”
“I'm tired of it, all of it,” she said. “He did it. And now I've got a daughter buried at 26 and a baby buried with her.”
Houk and her husband, Jack Houk, are raising Kenzie's daughters.
Brown has been held at a juvenile facility since last year.
His father, Chris Brown, could not be reached. He drove to see his son on Wednesday, Elisco said.
“He's elated,” Elisco said. “He is very emotional.”
Authorities initially charged Jordan Brown as an adult. His age and the grisly nature of the crime drew international attention as the case worked its way through the legal system for three years.
Under Hodge's ruling, Brown cannot be held past his 21st birthday but could be released sooner.
Chris Togneri is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5632 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.