Lawrence County PA Judge John Hodge—who this blogsite has repeatedly shown has a demonstrable pattern of NOT being fair and impartial—on Wednesday said he won’t grant a new trial for Jordan Brown, who Hodge had previously ruled as being delinquent (that is, guilty) of killing his father’s pregnant fiancee when he was just 11.
Jordan has always insisted he is innocent, and his defense attorneys have argued for years that Jordan’s conviction should be thrown out on the grounds that the evidence used to convict him at trial was insufficient.
The defense asked that Jordan, now 17, be given a new trial. In a 50-page ruling issued Wednesday, Judge John Hodge—the same judge that initially found Jordan guilty in April 2012—denied that request.
Brown’s lawyers have said they will appeal.
Jordan was accused in 2009 at the age of 11 of fatally shooting his father’s pregnant fiancee, 26-year-old Kenzie Houk, in the Wampum PA home where she lived with the boy, his father, and her two young daughters. He was arrested less than 24 hours after the crime and was initially charged as an adult with two counts of first-degree murder. Kenzie’s unborn child also did not survive the shooting.
The case attracted national attention—if tried and convicted, Jordan would have become the youngest person in United States history to face life in prison without the possibility of parole.
After years of legal wrangling, Jordan’s defense attorneys successfully argued to transfer the case to juvenile court, where Hodge adjudicated him delinquent following a bench trial, and ordered him to live in a juvenile residential treatment facility until the age of 21.
Jordan and his attorneys ultimately appealed the conviction to the Pennsylvania Superior Court and in May 2013, his conviction was overturned on the grounds that “the juvenile court committed a palpable abuse of discretion in rendering a ruling that is plainly contrary to the evidence.”
The prosecution then appealed the Superior Court’s ruling, and the case eventually made it to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In December 2014, the state’s high court vacated the ruling that had overturned Jordan’s conviction. However, the Supreme Court remanded the case back to juvenile court and Judge Hodge—where Jordan was given the opportunity to argue for a new trial and/or acquittal.
Dennis Elisco, one of Jordan’s defense attorneys, has said that he was displeased that Judge Hodge was tasked with the decision as to whether Jordan should be granted a new trial. He worried there would be a conflict of interest since Hodge initially found the boy guilty and that decision was the one under appeal, and he was correct.
Jordan has always maintained his innocence, but police and prosecutors have been adamant that the boy took his 20-guage “youth-sized shotgun,” which he used to go hunting with his father, and killed Kenzie moments before he calmly got on the bus and went to school. I have repeatedly demonstrated that the physical evidence suggests that a handgun, not Jordan’s shotgun, was used by somebody else to commit the murders.
Prosecutors suggested at trial that Brown was jealous of Kemzie’s unborn son, who died of oxygen deprivation after she was shot execution-style. She was more than eight months pregnant at the time.
Jordan was arrested less than 24 hours after the murder, but appellate court rulings have raised doubts as to whether it was an open-and-shut case. In its own way, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania endorsed those doubts.
In arrogantly refusing to allow his 2012 decision to be questioned, Hodge is admitting that a second court would not necessarily come to the same conclusion as he did. He is admitting that the same evidence presented under the warped lens of Lawrence County politics and influence wouldn’t prove up the state’s case.
In refusing to recognize the judgment and authority of the Superior and Supreme courts, Hodge is proving that his own judgment and authority are illegitimate and unworthy of being respected.
Groove of the Day
81° Fog in the morning, then Clearing, then Hail, Hellacious Downpour and Downed Power Lines