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Blog Posted in avatar   Melissa Higgins's Blog

Conclusion to: Tried and convicted in the media: why 13-year old Jordan Brown remains incarcerated

By Melissa Higgins
Posted Feb 10, 2011 in Crime
Conclusion (Part III of III)
Part III: Questions Unanswered
In March of 2010, Jordan Brown had been incarcerated at Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Detention Center for over a year for the murders of 26-year old Kenzie Houk and her unborn son. He was charged with shooting Kenzie in the back of the head while she slept in her bed in a farm house in Wampum, Pennsylvania. No direct physical evidence linked Jordan to the crime; however, police and prosecutors had collected evidence they felt supported the theory that Jordan had murdered his father’s fiancé in cold blood.
The evidence consisted of a spent shotgun shell found on the property where Jordan and his father were known to recreationally shoot their guns, a 20-gauge youth model shotgun found in Jordan’s bedroom, a shirt with a minuscule amount of gunshot residue on it, and a pair of pants taken from his bedroom with the same minute amount of residue. A trooper had testified at the preliminary hearing that the shotgun had smelled as though it had been recently fired and a ballistics report showed that the shotgun shell matched the gun. However, this evidence was extremely weak in light of the fact that Jordan and his father shot guns regularly, thus explaining the presence of shells on the property matching the shotgun as well as small amounts of residue on Jordan’s clothing.
After the decision to deny Jordan’s attorney’s request to move the case to juvenile court, an appeal was made. Almost a year later a three-person Superior Court panel overheard arguments from the state prosecutors and Jordan’s lawyers pertaining to whether or not he should be tried in an adult or juvenile court. The panel could take months to reach a decision as to whether to uphold the original ruling or decertify Jordan’s case so that he may be tried as a juvenile.
In the meantime, many questions remain unanswered with regard to this incredibly perplexing and tragic case. In the weeks and months following the murders, information about an ex-boyfriend of Kenzie’s, Adam Harvey, began to emerge. Information contained within a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order that Kenzie filed against Adam demonstrated that he had made multiple threats against her and her family. The order was filed a year before she was murdered and Kenzie had written that he had threatened to take her “whole family out” among myriad other threats.
Police claimed that Adam Harvey was investigated and that his alibi was solid. However, an article published by the Innocence Institute would later state that Jordan’s attorneys were dissatisfied with the investigation into his potential role in the murders. Adam’s alibi was that he was sleeping at his parent’s house where his truck was allegedly covered in snow. Climate reports indicate that it snowed the majority of the morning in the city where he lived, making it difficult to say one way or the other if he left his parents home and returned or not. It is unknown as to whether Adam was interviewed by police, had his hands tested for gunshot residue, or had cell phone records that could confirm his whereabouts on the morning in question. It should also be noted that he had a truck which was something that Jordan had reported seeing the morning he left for school.
In the legal briefs pertaining to the case one of the pieces of evidence that allegedly connects Jordan to these murders is a lack of footprints in the snow surrounding the family property. This is a seemingly erroneous claim because of the fact that Chris Brown left for work at 7 a.m. and would have to leave footprints on his way to a vehicle. Tree trimmers were on the property just prior to the 4-year old daughter finding her mother in her bed and alerting them by running from the home and crying. These men admitted to approaching the home. Troopers entered the home and a photograph exists showing an ambulance in front of the property where medical personnel likely entered. All of this begs the question: why are these people’s footprints unaccounted for? The prosecution’s claim that Jordan and Janessa’s footprints were the only ones on the property does not make sense.
Climate reports indicate there were two snow events consisting of light snow activity on the morning of February 20th, 2009: one at 6:47 a.m. and another at 8:47 a.m. The fact that it was snowing may also have accounted for some of the inconsistencies in terms of Jordan’s description of the truck he says he saw. As mentioned previously, snow fall in the city where Adam lived was greater on that morning.
Another aspect of this case that is puzzling relates to the absence of blood on Jordan’s clothing as well as the shotgun. The police informed the media that Kenzie was shot “execution-style” while she was sleeping in her bed. A gunshot wound caused by a shotgun results in a high velocity impact that produces blood spatter that blows back onto the person shooting the weapon. In this case, there was no such evidence of blood. Had there been blood it would have been presented by the prosecutors at the preliminary hearing, in the media, and in the briefings.
Conflicting statements made by 7-year old Janessa are also troubling. She initially told police that she did not remember anything of value happening the morning she and Jordan went to catch their school bus. She was interviewed twice before she changed her story and said she saw him with two guns, including the shotgun that police found in Jordan’s bedroom. She claimed to hear a loud bang, but she did not witness the shooting. The New Castle News reported on January 7th, 2011 that Janessa gave this third statement while she was living with her mother's family after her mother was murdered and Jordan was arrested.
Another questionable aspect of her statement relates to the location of Kenzie’s bedroom. Trooper Harry Gustafson would later describe entering the residence and seeing Kenzie on the bed in a bedroom to the right. He said he could see her from the entrance of the house. Had Janessa heard a loud bang it seems logical that she might check on her mother or at least get feedback from Kenzie as to whether or not the sound was anything to worry about. However, by all accounts Janessa and Jordan went on to school as though nothing happened that morning and none of what Janessa would later say she saw was reported until her third interview.
If Jordan is tried and convicted in the adult justice system of these murders he will be the youngest person ever to receive a life sentence without parole. In addition to this, unless new evidence comes to light, Jordan will have been convicted based on evidence that does not directly connect him to these murders. Many important questions remain unanswered and a boy’s life hangs in the balance. If you or anyone you know has information relating to this case I urge you to come forward with it. Also, if you want to get involved in the cause to help Jordan you may do so at the following site:
Here is an informational video relating to Jordan’s case. Share this with anyone you know:
Sources for article:
Article published on Innocence Institute (contains information about Kenzie’s protection order against Adam Harvey and other information):
Kenzie Houk’s family’s web-site containing information about Adam Harvey having a truck and a solid alibi:
Free Jordan Brown Discussion and Informational Forum (contains legal documents about case, including ones pertaining to judge’s decisions, appeals, and Adam Harvey):
Comprehensive links and information pertaining to climatology information relating to snow events on February 20th, 2009:
Article by The Sun describing the murders as “execution-style”:
Janessa’s claims of seeing two guns:
New Castle News report stating Janessa was living with her mother's family when she gave the third statement that she saw her brother with the guns:

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