HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania teen has been granted a new chance to argue there was insufficient evidence to convict him of killing his father’s pregnant fiancee when the boy was 11 years old.
The state Supreme Court on Monday sent the matter back to Lawrence County juvenile court to hold a hearing about the evidence used to convict Jordan Brown of the February 2009 shotgun killing of 26-year-old Kenzie Hook and her unborn son at their home near Wampum.
One of Brown’s attorneys, Lourdes Rosado, said his lawyers will file a motion seeking a new trial, arguing that his prior adjudication of delinquency in juvenile court went against the weight of the evidence.
She called the high court decision gratifying but noted Brown, now 17, remains incarcerated. She said he has always maintained his innocence.
“It is a concern that we’re going to be remanded and have to start this process all over again,” Rosado said. “Time is of an essence when you are a child and sitting in a facility.”
Messages seeking comment from the attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the case, were not immediately returned.
In the four-justice majority opinion, Justice Debra Todd described some of the evidentiary issues, including whether there was enough evidence to tie Brown to the murder weapon, the possible role of a black truck Brown said he saw by their garage before leaving for school and Brown’s healthy relationship with Houk.
Brown’s father, Todd said, testified that his son and fiancee were “just as normal as it was between her and her own daughters.”
Houk’s ex-boyfriend, Todd wrote, denied making threatening phone calls to Houk and said he was not upset by a blood test that showed he was not the father of one of Houk’s children.
The county judge, Todd said, excluded the ex-boyfriend in part because his hands lacked gunshot residue, he claimed he did not know where Houk lived and because only children’s footprints were seen in the snow between the house and the school bus stop.
State Superior Court, which reviewed the case last year, said the conviction was “plainly contrary to the evidence.”
Brown is under court supervision until he turns 21; his status is reviewed twice a year.
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