A Lawrence County boy who has been detained for more than three years on charges that he killed his father's pregnant fiancee will stay there at least another week while he awaits his juvenile trial.
Common Pleas Judge John Hodge ruled Tuesday that Jordan Brown, now 14, should remain in the Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Detention Center in Erie, where he has been held since shortly after the February 2009 shotgun slayings of Kenzie Houk, 26, and her nearly full-term unborn son. Jordan was 11 at the time.
Judge Hodge made his decision after a morning hearing in which Jordan's attorneys, Steve Colafella and Dennis A. Elisco, argued that the boy's right to a speedy trial had been violated and urged the judge to release him immediately into his father's custody pending his adjudication hearing.
The judge declined to release the boy but scheduled his hearing for Tuesday, said Ms. Houk's father, Jack Houk, who observed the hearing but did not testify.
Because Jordan's case is being heard in juvenile court, Tuesday's hearing, and the one slated to be held next week, was closed to reporters and members of the public.
"We're so happy about this," Mr. Houk said of the judge's decision to keep Jordan in custody. "At least we're going to get this over with and get some closure."
Mr. Colafella declined to comment after the judge issued his ruling Tuesday evening, but the attorney said after the hearing that his client "has been detained too long. ... He's had the opportunity to grow physically but not so much emotionally because of his circumstance and where he is. He's just not getting the counseling and treatment he really needs."
Judge Hodge held the hearing on the order of the state's Superior Court, which last week expressed concern that Jordan has been held for so long without a hearing concerning his release. Among those to testify were a juvenile probation officer; attorney David Acker, formerly of Jordan's defense team; and Deputy Attorney General Anthony J. Krastek Jr., who declined to comment after the hearing.
Jordan was present in the courtroom, observers said, but he did not speak.
Judge Hodge in October denied a motion by Jordan's defense attorneys to hold a detention hearing for him, saying he lacked jurisdiction because a Superior Court panel had yet to hear an appeal filed by three newspapers to have Jordan's adjudication hearing opened to the public, which the court denied. Jordan's attorneys then appealed his decision to the Superior Court, which said in its ruling that the juvenile court does have jurisdiction in matters of detention.
Under state law, a juvenile must be released or adjudicated within 10 days of being charged. But Jordan was charged as an adult until last year, when a different Lawrence County judge decided his case should be handled in juvenile court. The media's appeal further stalled the case.
Police have said Jordan shot Ms. Houk in the back of the head with a 20-gauge shotgun as she slept in their New Beaver farmhouse. Her unborn son also died.
"I want the boy to be somewhere where he is going to get some kind of treatment," said Ms. Houk's mother, Deborah Houk. "And he needs to get some kind of punishment."
If Jordan is adjudicated delinquent in the crimes, the state cannot hold him beyond his 21st birthday.neigh_north
Sadie Gurman: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1878. First Published April 4, 2012 12:00 AM