Teenage murder suspect Jordan Brown could be temporarily released from custody
NEW CASTLE, Pennsylvania - A hearing will be held in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. to determine if teenage murder suspect Jordan Brown should be released from custody until his trial in juvenile court.
The Superior Court of Pennsylvania issued a decision on Friday that the lower court erred in not holding a detention hearing sooner for Brown.
Brown was just 11-years-old when he was arrested and charged with shooting and killing his father's fiancé, Kenzie Marie Houk, and her unborn child. Houk was shot in the back of the head as she slept in her Wampum home.
Now, three years after the crime, at age 14, Brown could be released in to the custody of his father as he awaits his trial in juvenile court.
But, Jack Houk, the father of the murder victim had tears in his eyes as he said it feels like Brown as a suspect has far more rights than the victims. "How much can you take? It takes a lot from you when you lose your loved ones. I miss Kenzie everyday," Houck said.
Jordan Brown's attorney, Dennis Elisco, argues that the Wampum boy's right to a speedy trial has been violated. That's why the Superior Court has now ordered that the Common Pleas Court Judge hold the detention hearing before Thursday, April 5th.
"The Common Pleas Court has to make this decision. What happened here was originally this was an adult prosecution. They were charging and prosecuting this young man as an adult. He was charged with first degree murder. In that case, there's no entitlement to bond. You can hold somebody indefinitely if they're charged with first degree murder. It doesn't work that way in the juvenile court," said Former Lawrence County District Attorney Matt Mangino.
"When this case was sent back to juvenile court from adult court, then immediately there should have been a preliminary detention hearing within 72 hours and then a full detention hearing or adjudication within 10 days. That never happened here," Mangino said.
Attorney Mangino says if you read the law, even though some portions of the statute leave it open ended, it appears that there's no reason to hold Brown in custody.
And if he's released to his father, and if Brown is found delinquent or guilty of the crime in juvenile court, Mangino says, "What you might find is that you have a detention hearing here, he's sent to his father to live, which would not be an unusual situation, he may never go back in to custody again."
Coincidentally, the Supreme Court last week heard arguments on whether it is constitutional for a juvenile or child, who is put on trial as an adult, to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
It's believed the state of Pennsylvania has the highest number of cases nationwide of teen killers sentenced to mandatory life prison terms.