He Was Convicted of Murder at 11. Now, 'Long Overdue Justice'

Court overturns Jordan Brown's conviction
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 18, 2018 4:14 PM CDT
Court Overturns Then-11-Year-Old's Conviction in Murder of Dad's Girlfriend
This undated file photo provided by the Lawrence County Prison shows Jordan Anthony Brown when he was 11 years old.   (Lawrence County Prison via Beaver County Times via AP, File)

Pennsylvania's highest court on Wednesday overturned the conviction of a then-11-year-old boy in the 2009 shotgun slaying of his father's pregnant fiancée, saying prosecutors had not provided enough evidence to support it, the AP reports. The state Supreme Court's 5-0 ruling clears Jordan Brown of wrongdoing, his lawyers say, in the slaying of 26-year-old Kenzie Houk, who was eight months pregnant when she was found dead in the family's rural western Pennsylvania farmhouse. It reversed a finding by a juvenile court judge in Lawrence County, upheld by a state appellate court, that Brown was guilty of first-degree murder and homicide of an unborn child. Justices attacked the evidence as insufficient, saying among other things that trial testimony pointing to a shotgun in Brown's bedroom as the murder weapon "supported an equally reasonable conclusion" that it wasn't the murder weapon.

A lawyer for Brown, Kate Burdick, said Brown, now 20, has maintained his innocence since the murder and has now received "long overdue justice." Burdick would not discuss Brown's whereabouts, only saying that he was not in custody and that he had met all his treatment goals. In 2016, a judge put Brown on probation and in the custody of an uncle, who lives in Ohio. Brown's probation under juvenile court would have lasted just a few more weeks until he turns 21. The court's decision said state police searched for Houk's ex-boyfriend because he had a history of making threats of violence against her. Houk, her parents, sister and brother-in-law had permanent restraining orders against him and he had confronted Houk's parents the night before she was killed after finding out he was not the biological father of Houk's youngest daughter, court papers said, but he was excluded as a suspect.

(More murder stories.)

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