surprise telephone call

Jordan at 11Jordan at 15.

I received a telephone call yesterday from Chris Brown, Jordan’s dad. He was driving on his way to the May 17 hearing at the Superior Court in Pittsburgh seeking to clear Jordan’s name and finally have him exonerated of the 2009 murder of Kenzie Houk. All this time, Jordan has adamantly and consistently maintained his innocence—I believe him—and the Superior Court has vacated Judge Hodge’s finding that Jordan is “delinquent”… even though Hodge refused to accept the Superior Court’s findings. On this blog I have maintained that Jordan not only didn’t have the opportunity or motive to commit this crime, but that Kenzie Houk was shot with an entirely different weapon—a handgun with a shot shell—than maintained by the prosecutors of Lawrence County and Pennsylvania.

During the roughly 30-minute Superior Court proceeding Tuesday before three judges, Jordan’s attorney, Dennis A. Elisco, said that the lower court had failed to properly consider the evidence. “The evidence as we sit here today is the same. It’s never changed,” Elisco said.

A review found only two specks of gunshot residue—one on Jordan’s upper thigh, another on his upper chest—indicating the boy did not fire a gun that day, Elisco said. Expert testimony said that Jordan would have had more residue on him had he fired a gun and that such small amounts of residue could be transferred from other articles of clothing. “There is no evidence that [he] handled that gun or touched that gun that morning. That’s un-contradicted,” Elisco said. He added that the defense also established that Jordan’s own shotgun wasn’t used in the shooting.

In 2013, the Superior Court ruled there was insufficient evidence to find him guilty. A year later, the state Supreme Court agreed and sent the case back to the trial court.

Chris told me that Jordan has been coming home two or three weekends a month and is scheduled for permanent release June 10th. George Junior, his present program, is eager for Jordan to be released. Even though Jordan is willing to participate, the Houks have refused to attend a victims’ program they cannot attend without Chris or Jordan’s lawyer being present, and therefore dominate. Judge Hodge of Lawrence County has stated that Jordan has complied with everything the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has demanded of him (except confess to a crime he says he didn’t commit), so his release is all but final except for the judge’s written court order. Even though Pennsylvania has insisted on punishing Jordan for a crime of which he has not been convicted, they can hardly hold him any longer. Jordan has been accepted to a college program in the fall.
Methinks it would be expecting too much for the courts to settle this matter in a timely manner. The appeals court previously allowed Jordan, now 18, to ask Hodge to dismiss the charges or grant him a new juvenile court trial. Hodge refused to do either last year. The New Castle News reported yesterday that the Superior Court may take six months to render a decision on the matter. This has already been dragging on for seven years.
The state is proving once again that it is capable of dishing out more injustice and outrage going forward.
“He lost his childhood on a false conviction, and he deserves to be exonerated,” Elisco said of Jordan.

4 Responses to “surprise telephone call”

  1. 1 Stephanie
    May 18, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    Thank you so much for this news. I have been following this case ever since you began writing about it. I even contributed to his benefit fund. It’s wonderful news.

  2. 2 john
    May 19, 2016 at 6:28 am

    The state should pay the boy for his lost youth.

  3. 3 Jeanne
    May 20, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Methinks your right Dan, I learned long ago to not expect anything timely from the state. I believe in Jordan and I am so happy to hear of his release date and that he will be attending college! Great news! Thanks for sharing!

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