Jordan Brown can be held until 21st birthday, judge rules

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The Lawrence County 14-year-old found responsible last month for killing his father's pregnant fiancee can be held in custody until his 21st birthday, the woman's family said after a closed-door hearing today.

Jordan Brown was 11 when prosecutors say he shot 26-year-old Kenzie Houk in the head with a shotgun as she slept, killing her and her unborn child in February of 2009.

Jordan will be held in a secure facility. Under Pennsylvania law, he will be eligible for release following a review every six months.

Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge John Hodge on April 13 ruled the boy delinquent of first-degree murder and criminal homicide of an unborn child after a three-day hearing. The finding is the juvenile court equivalent of a guilty verdict.

An attorney for Jordan, Dennis Elisco, said today he plans to appeal.

Jordan's case drew international attention and was closely watched by juvenile justice experts. Initially charged as an adult, he would have faced life in prison had he been convicted and may have been the youngest defendant in the country to face that penalty.

But his attorneys' appeals, ultimately reaching the state Superior Court, succeeded in moving the case to the juvenile justice system, which would permit the state to hold Jordan only until his 21st birthday if he was found delinquent.

Prosecutors said Jordan shot Ms. Houk as she lay in bed in his father's New Beaver farmhouse, discarding the shell in the yard before boarding a bus to school.

Though Jordan has maintained his innocence, deputy attorney general Anthony J. Krastek said he argued that there was no one else who could have committed the crime.

His case was delayed again when media outlets, including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, unsuccessfully petitioned to have his hearing open to the public.

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Moriah Balingit:, 412-263-2533 and on Twitter @MoriahBee. First Published May 18, 2012 4:15 AM


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