Charged with Murdering Dad's Fiancée When He Was 11, Now 21-Year-Old Speaks After Court Freed Him
Jordan Brown was a fifth-grader in when Pennsylvania police arrived to take him away in the shotgun slaying of his dad's pregnant fiancée, Kenzie Houk
Houk, 26 and about eight months pregnant with Jordan’s little brother, was found dead in her bed on Feb. 20, 2009. (This account of the case is pulled from reports by ABC News, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Post-Gazette and available court documents.)
Owing in part to the discovery of a shotgun in the family home, near Wampum, as well as a shell casing outside and evidence of gunshot residue on his clothes, police zeroed in on 11-year-old Jordan.
Houk’s 7-year-old daughter also said she had heard a loud noise in the house around the time of the shooting.
Ultimately authorities argued that it was jealousy over his changing family that drove Jordan to murder his soon-to-be stepmom.
Jordan was tried by a juvenile judge and in April 2012 was found delinquent — analogous to guilty — of first-degree murder and criminal homicide of an unborn child.
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Six years later, a higher court found otherwise: Citing the “insufficient” evidence against Jordan, which failed to adequately prove he and only he could have committed the killing, the state’s Supreme Court in July unanimously overturned his conviction.
They found that the evidence was consistent with the theory that either Jordan was responsible or that someone else was to blame, but that his guilt was not clear.
By that point Jordan had already been out of prison for two years awaiting the resolution of his appeal. But the decision exonerated him and prevented a retrial.
Now, Jordan is speaking out about the case in an interview with ABC News airing on 20/20 and Nightline. An exclusive preview is above.
“I’m not angry. … What happened and the way it happened, is B.S.,” he told ABC. “I’m innocent. That’s, like, the only thing I really want people to know.”
Jordan’s father, Chris Brown, has remained by his side, persuaded by his son’s unwavering plea of innocence.
“It’s something I wouldn’t wish upon any parent out there,” he told reporters in July, according to the Tribune-Review. It’s been a long road.”
Chris said then that while much his son’s life was lost behind bars, the future was now available: “I think what matters most is moving on from this day forward and what you do from this day on.”
In the exclusive clip from his ABC interview, Jordan reflects on his hard years in custody, including the fights he witnessed and his glimpses of freedom.
“When I left for court, and that was only every couple of months, that was the only time I would be able to actually see outside,” he recalls.
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With the ruling this summer, Houk’s murder remains unsolved — an agony that appears to have fractured two families that were, at one time, about to merge.
Speaking to the Post-Gazette hours after learning of the overturned conviction, Houk’s father, who has been raising Houk’s two daughters, said he was rocked by the reversal.
“This is crazy,” he told the paper. “My wife is so much in shock I think I’m gonna have to take her to the hospital. She’s bawling and crying.”
“We’re going through hell,” he said. “The system is very, very wrong.”
While the Brown family has asked for a new investigation into Houk’s death, it remains unclear if authorities have decided to take a new look at what happened. (State police could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday, and they reportedly declined to comment this summer.)
An investigator on the case, since retired, told ABC he was sure of Jordan’s guilt.
Chris, Jordan’s dad, said the years-long case has taken a complicated emotional toll.
“Suffering from the loss and not having any answers. … I think has just ruined us [from] ever having closure,” he said.
20/20 airs Friday (10 p.m. ET) followed by Nightline (12:35 a.m. ET Saturday), both on ABC.