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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Jordan A Brown, charged with killing Kenzie Houk, could face a life term

Originally posted March 9, 2009
By Ramit Plushnick-Masti
Associated Press

NEW CASTLE, Pa. - Good student. Starting quarterback. Aspiring hunter. By most accounts, 11-year-old Jordan Brown was a typical boy in his rural Pennsylvania community, albeit raised mostly by his father after his mother gave him up.

So it baffles Jordan's friends and neighbors that he is accused of taking a 20-gauge youth shotgun he got from his father for Christmas and fatally shooting his father's pregnant fiancee, the woman who tried hardest to be a mother to him.

"There were no red lights, there were no indications that we should have done something differently," said Timothy McNamee, superintendent of the Mohawk Area School District.
Authorities say the Feb. 20 killing of 26-year-old Kenzie Marie Houk in Wampum, a small community about 50 miles north of Pittsburgh, was premeditated. Police say Jordan threw the spent shell casing in the woods, got on the bus, and went to school.

Jordan has been charged as an adult with double homicide and is housed at a juvenile-detention center in Erie. If he is convicted as an adult, he faces life in prison. If his case gets moved to a juvenile court, he would probably spend the next 10 years in a secure juvenile facility.

Jordan's mother, Mildred Krause, was four months pregnant with him when she first entered a courtroom to battle his father, Christopher Brown.

At that time, in March 1997, Krause filed a protection-from-abuse order against Brown, claiming he drank, did drugs, and had threatened to harm her. Apparently unaware Krause was pregnant with his son, Brown was ordered to stay away from her, an order later expunged, according to court records and Brown's attorney, Dennis Elisco.

Immediately after Jordan was born on Aug. 30, 1997, Krause contacted Lawrence County Children and Youth Services requesting that they take custody of the child so her mother could adopt him, according to court documents. Not having the father's consent, the agency declined her request.

Brown, meanwhile, tipped off by Krause's grandmother and brother that she was having his baby, filed an emergency petition with the court, opposing the move to have the child put up for adoption and demanding full custody.

In a back-and-forth battle resolved when Jordan was about 2 months old, a court ruled Krause and Brown would share custody, with the mother getting him four days a week and the father three.

But on Feb. 5, 1999, with the consent of both parents, Christopher Brown was awarded full custody. Court records don't indicate why.

Friends and family say that from February 1999 on, Krause had little contact with her son. They say Brown was a good father and spent a lot of quality time with his son.

The instability that characterized Jordan's formative years, including the fact he might have felt rejected by his biological mother, could have influenced his later behavior, said Daniel Shaw, chairman of the psychology department at the University of Pittsburgh.

"You can easily say it's a risk factor, a very important one, in early childhood that has been linked to . . . antisocial behaviors," Shaw said. However, "it's not usually going to result in the child killing someone at age 11."

Christopher Brown refused to be interviewed for this article but answered a few questions through his attorney. Efforts to reach Krause were unsuccessful.

Through Elisco, Brown said Jordan was a good student, pulling mostly A's and B's, his favorite subjects being math and science. In the last two years, Jordan was the starting quarterback for his midget football team and played baseball.

In May 2008, Jordan's father began dating Houk. By Christmas, they were engaged and had moved into a farmhouse together, along with Jordan and Houk's two daughters, ages 7 and 4. Houk was about six months pregnant.

Houk's family said their daughter tried to include Jordan in everything.

Willard Houk, Kenzie Houk's uncle, said he stopped at the farmhouse a short time after Kenzie Houk and Christopher moved in. He took Kenzie Houk's girls for spins on his motorcycle. Then Kenzie Houk's 7-year-old reminded him that Jordan needed to get a ride, too, "because he's a part of our family now," he said.

Jordan got his ride, but Willard Houk said it seemed strange to him that unlike the girls, who were "bubbly and jumpy," Jordan was barely excited. It made Willard Houk think Jordan needed more men in his life, and he was determined to help.

Willard Houk bought Jordan a present at Christmas. And Jordan got a 20-gauge youth-model shotgun from his father, the one police said he used to shoot Kenzie Houk in the back of the head.
Like many other children in the area, Jordan began target shooting with his father in preparation for the 2009 hunting season, when, at age 12, he would be old enough to get a hunting license.

By Valentine's Day, Willard Houk and Kenzie Houk's father, Jack, thought the boy was a good enough shot to participate in a turkey shoot, so they took Jordan along.
When he had a hard time handling his 20-gauge, Willard Houk let the boy use his 12-gauge. Jordan beat out the older, more experienced men, hitting closest to the target and winning the prize turkey. "He was ecstatic about that," Willard Houk said.

But the Houk family said that despite their efforts - and those made by Kenzie Houk - Jordan had difficulty adjusting to his new life.

Elisco denied there were tensions between Jordan and his new family. "He had a very good relationship with Kenzie," Elisco said. "The accusations of him having rage or warning signs of violence are unfounded."

1 comment:

Roxy said...

What do you expect? The kid was taught to kill for pleasure and was given a gun - a tool whose sole purpose is to kill. Typical American gun-loving nutcases, plain and simple.