Posts Tagged ‘triumph of truth over deception

24
Mar
11

esprit de corps

One of the most mystifying things about the Jordan Brown case is why the police never seriously pursued an investigation of Kenzie Houk’s former boyfriend Adam Harvey, the only character in this whole sordid affair with a known motive for seeing Kenzie dead.

It was Adam Harvey, after all, who had been engaged in a bitter paternity and child-support battle with Kenzie and who, after paying for the support of Kenzie’s youngest daughter Adalynn for years, discovered through DNA testing that Adalynn is not his daughter afterall—and that Kenzie had not been honest with him in more ways than one.

She had cheated him of his money and cheated on him by sleeping with another man. That’s blood-boiling, seeing-red motive. Why would the police ignore it?

And it was Adam Harvey who was the object of not one, but two PFA (protection from abuse) orders taken out against him by Kenzie in 2006 and 2008. These documents are public record and surely would have been accessed as a first step in any honest police investigation. Why then could the police overlook key statements made by Kenzie herself that:

(From the 2008 PFA regarding a February 3, 2008 incident)

“ADAM CALLED MY MOTHERS AND THREATENED TO TAKE MY WHOLE FAMILY OUT WHEN HE COMES TO TOWN. HE HAS LEFT SEVERAL MESSAGES THREATENING TO HURT ME AND MY FAMILY. I AM IN FEAR OF HIM HURTING ME PHYSICALLY OR MY FAMILY. HE HAS A DRINKING PROBLEM THAT IS UNCONTROLLABLE. HE HAS THREATENED TO HIRE SOMEONE TO HURT ME SEVERAL TIMES. I HAVE BEEN TALKING TO SHENANGO POLICE AND THEY LISTENED TO THE MESSAGE ON MY MOTHERS CELL PHONE AND SUGGESTED TO ME TO GET A PFA.”

(emphasis added)

(And from the 2006 PFA regarding a May 26, 2006 incident)

“WE WERE ARGUING REGARDING MY NEICE THEN ADAM AND I STARTED TO ARGUE. I SAID SHUT UP AND ACT LIKE THE ADULT AND HE CAME INTO THE HOUSE WHERE I WAS COOKING AND THREW THE FOOD OUTSIDE AND STARTED TO ARGUE AGAIN. HE THEN THREATENED ME. I WENT TO LEAVE IN MY CAR AND HE TOOK THE KEYS; THREW THEM AT ME AND PUSHED ME AGAINST THE STEERING WHEEL. HE LEFT A BIG BRUISE ON MY FOREARM. ADAM ABUSES ALCOHOL AND DRINKS DAILY. HIS BROTHER SHOWED UP AND THREATENED ME AND THEY BOTH LEFT WHEN THE POLICE ARRIVED. THE POLICE SUGGESTED I GET A PFA.”

Elsewhere on the same form, Kenzie cited the following as prior incidents of abuse that Adam had allegedly committed against her: ”MENTAL ABUSE; THREATENING TO KILL ME OR HAVE ME KILLED BY HIS FRIENDS IN HILLSVILLE.

(emphasis added in both quotes)

Now, let us consider the timing of the murders in relation to Adam’s discovery from the DNA evidence that Kenzie had played him for a royal fool. According to what Chris Brown has told me, Adam discovered Kenzie’s infidelity and deception only a week or two before she and the baby were murdered. There was not even an opportunity for Adam to cool off. He must have still been boiling with rage on February 20th.

So why were the police so quick to dismiss Adam Harvey as a suspect? The police say that even though he’d returned to Newcastle from where he’d been living and working in North Carolina, Adam had a “solid alibi” on the morning of the murders because he was sleeping at his parents’ home on Boston Avenue and his truck was surrounded by newly-fallen snow. There were no tire tracks when the police arrived, and his father vouched for him.

Yet given his relationships with lowlife friends (and at least one family member who had threatened Kenzie), Adam certainly had the opportunity to hire someone or otherwise arrange with somebody to have Kenzie killed. His background report says he earns between $50,000 and $75,000 a year—so he probably had the means to pay. Everyone knows that such arrangements leave no snow tracks. Given the victim’s own assertion and belief that Adam could have hired a surrogate to do the hit, the police characterization of Adam’s alibi as “solid” is, by any reasonable judgment, an overstatement to say the least.

Why would the police have been so quick to back off?

And remember, more than a year ago Jordan’s lawyers received a tip that Adam had tearfully admitted to a friend at a party, “I killed my old girlfriend,” and this tip was passed on to police in writing—though more than a month later Trooper Jeffrey Martin, who was heading up the murder investigation, denied to reporters any knowledge of this letter which had been addressed to him. So what was really going on? Why did Trooper Martin apparently lie?

It was a mystery to me until last night when a reader sent me a clue which suggests there is much more to this story than one sees on the surface. This clue is an example of how eventually, given enough time and digging, the whole true story will eventually be revealed.

This reader’s e-mail began: “When they run into problems, sons of fathers with status are kept out of the news and courts. But I’ve never seen it at the expense of an eleven year old boy.

“This guy, who is in his sixties and lives at the same address as Adam J. Harvey (ex-boyfriend of Kenzie), is most  probably his father. If he is, take a look at who he is:

Detachment Listing and Detachment Officers / Department of Pennsylvania

Marine Corps League

http://www.pamcleague.org/mcldetoff.htm

New Castle Marines #788  (4/01/09)

Commandant: Charles Harvey / 506 Boston Ave / New Castle, Pa 16101 / (724) 654-7309

Sr. Vice Commandant: Ronald E. Jones / 1600 Grove Ave / New Castle PA 16101 / (724) 658-5448

Jr. Vice Commandant: David L. Thomas / 426 Fairgreen Ave / New Castle PA 16101 / (724) 654-1178

Judge Advocate: John P. Wherthey / 2414 Anne Dr / New Castle PA 16105 / (724) 652-7901

Jr. Past Commandant: Claude D.Shorts / 109 Germanski La / New Castle, PA 16102 / (724) 667-9422; Dan Chuey 132 S. Myers Ave / Sharon PA 16146 / (724) 699-6872

Adjutant: Richard W. Nonnemacher / 1201 Highland Ave, Apt #1 / New Castle PA 16105-2645 / (724) 657-8746

Paymaster: Gerald F. Kern / 414 E. Moody Ave / New Castle PA 16105 / (724) 652-4371

Chaplain: Emmett W. Shaffer / 315 Jones St / New Castle PA 16101 / (724) 652-9245

Sergeant-at-Arms: Fred Humphries / Conner School Road / Wampum PA 16157 / (724) 535-7243

“Now I understand why the police were so quick to accept the feeble alibi and drop Adam Harvey as a suspect. It may also explain why the media comments in PA are so negative; why the justice system in Newcastle is denying Jordan his rights; why Melissa had her posts on Topix deleted; why I had unusual difficulty–several times–posting to CBS Local Pittsburgh in response to a poster called “Dallas” who was knowledgeable, smooth, and polite—but adamant beyond reason considering his education (IMO), that Jordan was guilty. This news would explain much of what is happening to Jordan,” he said.

“It looks like the police and prosecution were not inept but something much worse.”

These are the reader’s conclusions, not mine. However, he has aroused my curiosity enough that I have initiated background checks on everyone connected with this Marine Corps League chapter. We will be looking for any connections whatsoever to the police, prosecutors, and other authorities in Lawrence County. We are using databases not available to the public and our cybersleuths and other investigators will keep digging until we discover the truth about exactly how this blatant miscarriage of justice has been engineered.

In time the truth will come out and any persons who are accessories to the murders and to the framing of an innocent child will be held to account. (Neither one is an insignificant crime, but a serious felony involving prison time.) If anyone knows something they are hiding, this is their last chance to come forward and avoid more serious consequences for themselves and their loved ones.

The Marines’ famous slogan is “Semper Fidelis” (Always Faithful), and signifies the dedication and loyalty that individual Marines have for “Corps and Country”, even after leaving the service. It is easy to see how loyalty between Marine veterans could become so personal that loyalty to Country, its laws and ideals, could become lost among drinking buddies—and we do know from the long line of DUI convictions in the public record that Charles Harvey and his sons have been heavy drinkers.

Now is the time for some sober reflection. This absurd story has played out far too long. It is time for grunts and civilians alike to be faithful to the truth and restore justice in Western Pennsylvania.

It’s time to wake up and heed what a wise champion of freedom named Voltaire once said: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to the Angels performing “My Boyfriend’s Back”

19
Feb
11

overdue

Yesterday I received a call from Chris Brown encouraging me to contact one of Jordan’s lawyers about a longstanding disagreement I have had with the legal team about their approach to media relations. By any objective measure, their approach has been an unmitigated disaster, and there has been nothing I have been able to do in almost two years to get them to change course.

Even though my last phone call to Jordan’s lawyer had gone unanswered for more than three weeks, I agreed to place another call last night. “He promised he will call you back right away,” Chris assured me.

But he didn’t call back right away, and I was not surprised.

I have long since given up and moved on. The reason for my call three weeks ago—an opportunity to make an appearance on a major network news program—has probably evaporated in the intervening time. Yet as I pointed out to Chris, it probably makes little practical difference because so many such opportunities have already been squandered along the way. This one can’t make things any worse.

I will continue to proclaim Jordan’s innocence on this blog and will make necessary updates to Jordan’s website, but it is impossible for me to do any more to help as long as Jordan’s lawyers keep sandbagging efforts to get the truth out to the broader media.

There is a reason I have been the only person writing about Jordan’s innocence, and there is a reason my arguments have failed to achieve any traction in the mainstream media: the lawyers’ refusal to show the media documentary proof that the claims I have been making about the evidence are true.

From the beginning, Jordan’s lawyers have failed (or refused?) to see that the prosecution of this case has been political, and not merely legal. They have persisted in their conceit that Jordan’s exoneration and freedom can be won in the courtroom exclusively, regardless of whatever is happening in the court of public opinion. That they have been wrong has been amply proved by the prosecution’s outlandish tactics and arguments which reveal its sense of impunity—that it can get away with anything, no matter how absurd, untrue and unfair, in making its case. (For example, the interlocutory appeal to the Superior Court should never have been necessary.)

I am convinced that Jordan could have been released, and his name cleared, long before now had his case been aggressively advocated in the media from the beginning. Yet it has not, and is not, being so advocated and as a result will likely drag on and on for a long time to come.

In the meantime, poor Jordan will continue to waste away in detention and will continue to be an object of sick people’s misplaced hatred.

My personal consolation is that we have learned from this unfortunate state of affairs and have approached Paul Henry’s situation in an entirely different way. Paul Henry’s lawyer Monica Foster would never have signed on to our advocacy team had she not agreed wholeheartedly that the case should command a high profile in the media. Already—less than two months into our initiative—this aggressive strategy is proving its efficacy. I am guessing Paul Henry’s freedom will be achieved before Jordan’s.

The juvenile justice system almost everywhere in America is broken, and it makes as little sense to depend on lawyers to fix it as to rely on leeches in the treatment of disease.

A more rational and balanced approach is long overdue.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Dixie Chicks performing “Long Time Gone”

06
Oct
10

continuance

If you needed any more proof that the Jordan Brown case is all about politics, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office has requested—and received—a continuance from the Superior Court. The appeal of Judge Motto’s ruling that Jordan should be tried as an adult will not be heard until after the gubernatorial election is decided.

The unfortunate task of defending the state’s absurd argument that Jordan must first admit to a crime he didn’t commit in order to be considered “amenable to rehabilitation” (and to therefore be eligible to be tried in juvenile court) has fallen to Chief Deputy Attorney General Christopher D. Carusone, who heads the Appeals & Legal Services Section of the AG’s Criminal Law Division.

As documentation supporting his motion for a continuance, Carusone submitted copies of his calendar which is chock-full of scheduled proceedings, meetings, and luncheons which presumably cannot be rescheduled. The way I heard it, Carusone’s schedule is packed with everything short of walking his dog and picking up his laundry—immovable priorities, certainly, much more important than any which Jordan might have in the meantime while this groundless case is being tortuously resolved.

Give me a break. This is a delaying tactic, pure and simple.

After all, the Corbett Campaign can’t have any voters asking uncomfortable questions about Tom Corbett’s willingness to hold a 12-year-old child hostage to his political ambitions, not now in the last month of the election. They can’t let voters see how dishonest and professionally incompetent Corbett’s police supporters are, nor how Corbett and his deputies have been covering up police shortcomings through disinformation, prosecutorial malfeasance, and now, foot-dragging.

This is so wrong. I have to find something to do today to get myself back into a good mood… like ice cream at the Grub Shack.

The Grub Shack Cure always works.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Bill Monroe performing “Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong″

29
Sep
10

who’s responsible?

I woke up in an agitated state this morning. I “slept on it” and it didn’t help.

Yesterday Jordan’s dad Chris Brown called to fill me in on the latest developments in Jordan’s ever-protracting case, and although Chris shared some very positive news with me, I have come away from the call distraught that this case has dragged on so long.

The fallout for Chris in the local community is intensifying. A short time ago he’d gone with friends to a local bar—something Chris almost never does because he wants to avoid incidents like this—and one of Kenzie’s ex-boyfriends who has remained close to the Houk family tapped him on the shoulder and, when Chris turned around, threatened Chris with a handgun. The police were called to the bar, Chris told them he wanted to press charges, but the police for their own reasons refused to follow through, saying that “it would be better for Jordan” if they didn’t.

(This was not the ex-boyfriend who may have committed the murder, but another one from long ago. Before Chris, Kenzie must have been attracted to some pretty rough characters.)

I reminded Chris that this ex-boyfriend probably thought he was in the right because all he knows about the case is based on the disinformation released by the police and prosecution to the Houk family and the public which has convinced them that Jordan was the perpetrator.

No one has told them that Jordan’s shotgun and the blue blanket came back from the crime lab clean. No one has been told that only two particles of gunshot residue were found on Jordan’s clothing where there should have been thousands if the murder had happened the way the police fantasize that it did. No one has acknowledged the missing “shotgun evidence,” explained why only 26 pellets were recovered from Kenzie’s brain, nor why her head had not been blown open or completely off if a shotgun had been used as police claim. No one has explained how a shotgun could have created an entry wound so small that the police didn’t even realize Kenzie had been shot until they moved her body onto the gurney.

No impartial authority has examined the evidence to determine if it even supports the wildly implausible story invented by the police. No one is questioning why and how  Trooper Janice Wilson coerced statements from a traumatized little girl supporting a fiction the crime lab has now shown did not happen. The prosecution certainly knows what evidence they do and don’t have. They know it doesn’t add up and won’t hold up.

But another election is on and they’re saying nothing.

Attorney General Tom Corbett has neither acknowledged the case nor directed his office to act honestly based on the facts, otherwise it would presumably upset the string of “law-and-order” endorsements he has secured in his run for Pennsylvania Governor from the Pennsylvania State Trooper’s Association, the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, and the Fraternal Order of Police (among others*). Until the gubernatorial election is over, Corbett must support the vested interests of his supporters and appear to be “tough on crime,” even if it means covering up outrageous police incompetence and dishonesty.

Although he has carefully avoided attaching his name to the controversy surrounding Jordan’s case, he has nevertheless allowed his deputy Anthony Krastek to pursue these groundless charges against Jordan. Politics and official corruption have polluted this case from the beginning, and Tom Corbett has done nothing to put the process on an honest track. And this man poses himself as having the personal integrity to serve as Pennsylvania’s governor!

The Pennsylvania courts have not examined the evidence, either.

Police interpretations of the evidence—and not the evidence itself—are the only things which have been entered into the court record at this point in the process. It is unlikely that these police lies and prosecutorial deceptions will hold up under impartial scrutiny when the time comes. Jordan’s lawyers are confident that they will win Jordan’s freedom on the basis of the evidence, which clears Jordan of any involvement in Kenzie’s murder. But the time for this examination of the true facts is many months away, if not years, as the question is decided of whether this examination of the truth shall take place in an adult or juvenile court.

In the meantime, Jordan is languishing in detention and his dad’s heart is broken.

Because the potential adult court penalty of a mandatory life-without-parole sentence is tantamount to a living death sentence, it is important that the case be decided in a juvenile court. Chris told me that the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center took the lead in preparing the brief in the appeal to the Superior Court of Judge Motto’s decision to try Jordan as an adult. (A hearing date has not yet been set.) This is a very positive development because of their ability, experience, and prestige.

Yet this aspect of Jordan’s case is only a critical sideshow, a diversion from the more fundamental question of how it is possible that an innocent child could have been snatched from his bed in the middle of the night and jailed for more than a year and a half on the basis of police conjecture and theories which have been disproved by their own crime lab’s examination of the evidence. As public scrutiny is focused on the sideshow, no one is asking why Jordan was not released and why his name was not cleared when the crime lab results came back clearing him.

The most reasonable explanation is that, from the beginning, Jordan Brown has been used as a pawn in a shameless and cynical display of political theatre, first by former Lawrence County district attorney John Bongivengo who had hoped the sensational story would save him from political oblivion (it didn’t), and now by Pennsylvania attorney general Tom Corbett.

As officers of the court and playing by the rules of the court (and by not using the evidence at this time to publicly and conclusively debunk the state’s claims in the court of public opinion), Jordan’s lawyers have been allowing this subversion of justice to continue.

This case is no longer about justice, but about politics. I don’t think it has ever been about justice.

From the first day when the police jumped to conclusions, they pursued their “investigation” not following evidence and leads to find the real murderer, but to develop “evidence” that would support their sick story and hide their arrogant and contemptuous methods. As we have seen, they stooped to coercing a witness statement from Jordan’s traumatized younger sister and setting Kenzie’s family against Jordan and his dad. They even got school officials to muzzle the school community so that the people who know Jordan best—his teachers and friends—feel intimidated to speak up for him.

Now even Jordan is doing something which works against his self-interest: he is growing up.

When this whole ordeal began, he was a little kid who came up to my shoulders—he was a small boy who would have made a sympathetic defendant and answered all questions as the child that he was at the time of the murder. Now he is my height and forty pounds heavier. He has been forced to grow up fast in the company of young criminals and troublemakers. By the time his case comes to trial he will probably have pimples and will look big enough and tough enough to have committed a crime. Prisons have a way of rubbing off on anybody who comes in contact with them. The longer this case drags out and the bigger Jordan grows, the easier it might be for the prosecution to get a judge or jury to disregard the evidence and accept the word of dirty cops.

My recent experience with the David Champ case in Missouri gives me great hope that honesty and justice and the best interests of society can prevail. A child who has committed murder will have had his case properly and compassionately resolved within two months. But that is Missouri and this is Pennsylvania we’re talking about. This contrast exacerbates my frustration, and I’m dismayed that the prevailing spirit in the Keystone State is so perverse, cynical, and evil.

Holly and I both had ancestors who lived in Pennsylvania, and I thank God neither of us were born there and grew up there. Looking at Pennsylvania through the lens of the Jordan Brown story says to me that it is no place to raise children or trust the state with your family’s welfare.

I’m sorry if my words offend any Pennsylvania visitors, but I don’t see crowds out there rising up and protesting Jordan’s poor treatment. Even if he were guilty—which he is not—his treatment by the state is cruel, indecent, and unworthy.

Why is no one saying this about Tom Corbett? He’s the man responsible.

* Official Cover-Up?

Here are Tom Corbett’s law-and-order endorsements which he’d have to put on the line to act honestly in the Jordan Brown case:

Pennsylvania State Troopers Association

Pennsylvania State Lodge – Fraternal Order of Police

Also: Fraternal Order of Police E.B. Jermyn Lodge #2;  Tri-City Lodge #50; Fort Pitt FOP Lodge #1; Allegheny Valley FOP Lodge #39; Queen City FOP Lodge #10; Le-Hampton FOP Lodge #35; Wright Township Police Officers’ Association

Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association

Also: Northeast Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association; Chester County Police Chiefs Association; Luzerne County Chiefs of Police Association

 Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Constables

 Pennsylvania Narcotics Officers Association

 Firearms Owners Against Crime

۞

Groove of the Day

Sadly, with all the drama going on in Pennsylvania, it is easy enough to forget about poor Jordan, who has one main thing on his mind:

Listen to Carole King performing “Home Again″

16
Sep
10

lie to me

Yesterday I finally got my hands on a box of 20-gauge shotgun shells and began my dissecting and counting tasks. Up until now I have only able to think and speak in rounded numbers and approximations. Now I’ll be able to examine the police claims in the Jordan Brown story with more accuracy and precision.

Yesterday I counted out the #6 pellets from a single shotgun shell, and laid them out in phalanxes on sticky tape. There were 183 total. The number of pellets recovered from Kenzie’s head is represented by one small grouping of a little more than two phalanxes of ten; the phantom pellets are represented by another much larger group of more than fifteen phalanxes. This simple exhibit shows that 85% of the evidence that should be present is not—evidence that’s either missing or, more likely, which never existed in the first place. This is a huge discrepancy.

As I reported in my September 13th entry, there were no holes in the mattress, no pellets in the bedding, no pellets in the pillow or walls. If the police are telling the truth, where are the 157 missing pellets?

Being able to make this graphic comparison between police claims and the actual truth has made me wonder again just how these cops ever thought they’d be able to get away with their lies.

First of all, the context for the likelihood of this crime having happened as the police say is completely absent. Crimes like this—that is, in which a child murders a parent—are extremely rare (there are only about 30 in the U.S. each year). According to Kathleen Heide, a criminology professor at the University of South Florida and the author of the book Why Kids Kill Parents, there are three types of children who kill their parents. There are those who’ve been abused and kill a parent to try to end the abuse. There are those who are antisocial and view their parents as obstacles trying to control them. And the last are those who are mentally ill. Jordan fits none of these three types, and no one has produced any evidence (like psychological evaluations) showing otherwise.janice wilson

Second, the reason police suspicion fell so quickly onto Jordan is that the police interviewer, Trooper Janice Wilson, suspected that Jordan was lying to her. To justify her gut instinct, Wilson seized on minor observational inconsistencies in Jordan’s description of a black pickup truck he’d seen parked near the house the morning of the murder. But who is to say if Trooper Wilson is even adept at discerning liars and their lies?

Scientists Dr. Maureen O’Sullivan and Dr. Paul Eckman, upon whose research the Fox TV series Lie to Me is based, identified only 50 out of 20,000 people (about 0.25% of the population) they tested from all walks of life, including the Secret Service, FBI, sheriffs, police, attorneys, arbitrators, psychologists, students, and many others, who are able to tell with 85% or better accuracy if someone is lying to them. They called these adepts “Truth Wizards.” It is highly unlikely that Janice Wilson is one of these rare natural savants, and more likely that her skills are greater in the twisting and fabrication of evidence to serve her own possibly warped ego needs.

She is the interviewer who, in a third late-night interview (after the previous two interviews yielded no incriminating evidence against Jordan) got Jordan’s step-sister to supply a statement with supporting details for the police scenario—like the claim that Jordan wrapped his shotgun in a blue blanket to muffle the sound—that have long since been debunked by the state’s crime lab. The blue blanket came back from the lab with no traces of gunshot residue, and the hole “from the shotgun blast” proved to be an old cigarette burn. Yet the blue blanket figures prominently in the young girl’s coerced witness statement.

(It’s a frightening thought that Janice Wilson has retired from the state police and is now working as an investigator for Child Protective Services. Who else’s children is she screwing with now?)

Third, it is so outrageous that the police and prosecution have been allowed to get away with releasing information about their evidence which is technically true but completely misleading. For example, they stated that gunshot residue was found on Jordan’s shirt and trousers, thereby creating the impression that he was the shooter. But do you know how much residue was actually found on these two items of clothing? Only one particle on each!

If Jordan had discharged the murder weapon, he and his clothing would have been covered with gunshot residue from head to toe. If a shotgun had been used, he and his clothing would also have been covered with blood and brains. But a shotgun was not used, and Jordan wasn’t the shooter. Jordan and his clothing were virtually spotless. (Two grains of residue is an infinitesimal amount which could easily have been picked up if the boy had dropped his trousers on the floor or placed his shirt on a dresser top.)

I’m outraged that the legal process (as well as its media coverage) is presently transfixed by the important distraction of whether Jordan should be tried as an adult or a child, which completely obscures the fact that this little boy has been imprisoned for a year and a half without a shred of evidence to suggest any connection whatsoever between him and this heinous crime.

All the while Mr. Krastek the prosecutor perpetuates this cruel perversion of justice using the heinousness of the crime as his chief justification. Hell yes, the crime was heinous. Just look at the misery it’s caused.

But that misery is being compounded—not only for Jordan and his dad, and the Houk family, too—but for our whole brutalized society to which this case is proving that the police, law, and courts cannot be relied upon to seek the truth and are therefore unworthy of our trust.

The state’s evidence should have been examined long ago, rather than just accepting the officials’ self-serving interpretations of evidence that actually clears Jordan. He should have been released as soon as the crime lab results were received and his name should have been officially cleared. But it appears the Commonwealth is intent on winning at all costs.

As investigative journalist Bill Moushey’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette series “Win at All Costs” (http://innocenceinstitute.org/WinAtAllCosts.pdf) makes so evident, we must expect a significant number of police and prosecutors to be unethical liars. When cases like this don’t add up, it is in our own vital interest to challenge their findings and actions.

Later today or tomorrow I’m going to drive into town to buy some melons if I can find them. It’s time to see for myself what kinds of wound evidence should be present if the police crime theory were true, and then compare that to replication of the wounds as actually observed and documented.

Hopefully this demonstration can help blow the mask off this whole farce, help us learn from this travesty, and prevent its ever happening again.

And yet I cannot shake the thought of what Goethe once said so well: “We are never deceived, we deceive ourselves.” I am wondering what this whole sad story says not only about police and prosecutors, but about us.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Jonny Lang performing “Lie to Me″

A very cool blues song by a talented kid from Minneapolis.

His ex-babysitter is a part of my extended family.

13
Sep
10

counting, counting

Last night we visited a friend to pick up samples of shotgun shells with #6 pellets in them. We know that fewer than thirty #6 birdshot pellets were recovered at autopsy from Kenzie Houk’s brain. How did they get there?

The police say they got there as the result of a point-blank blast from Jordan’s “youth-sized” 20-gauge shotgun which they could tell by smell had been recently fired.

But how recently? Two hours before, or twelve or more? They don’t know.

The police didn’t even scientifically determine the time of Kenzie’s death, which could have and should have been done but was not. There’s no way they could have scientifically determined how recently Jordan’s shotgun had been fired. But what would have been the point, anyway, without a definitive time of death with which to match it? The only thing their sniff test told the cops is that Jordan’s shotgun had been fired and not cleaned.

The police retrieved a 20-gauge shell casing from the outdoors area where Jordan and his dad were practice-shooting the day before the murder. The police claim the retrieved casing was THE shell used to kill Kenzie. But why that particular casing and not one of the others scattered about nearby?

We know that this particular brand and type of 20-gauge shell is manufactured with slightly fewer than 200 #6 pellets in each one. Yet fewer than 30 of these pellets were recovered from Kenzie’s head. There were no holes in the mattress, no pellets in the bedding, no pellets in the pillow or walls. If the police are telling the truth, where are the roughly 160 missing pellets?

They didn’t just disappear by magic. If they existed, they could not have been missed by even the most negligent investigators. It is more plausible that the missing pellets never existed in the first place, which would mean a 20-gauge shell had not been used, and Jordan’s shotgun was not the murder weapon.

So what kind of weapon and ammunition could have delivered fewer than 30 pellets to Kenzie’s brain? We know without question that it was not a shotgun because of the missing pellets alone. Because a spent casing was not found in the bedroom where Kenzie was murdered, it’s likely a revolver loaded with shells containing #6 birdshot was used.

A handgun, not a shotgun. But whose handgun?

These shells can be homemade without any special reloading equipment and as a result are virtually untraceable by law enforcement. This is evidence of someone’s premeditation, but no one has ever suggested that Jordan made his own ammunition. No, someone else was the shooter, an experienced handgun owner, someone with a motive who had been thinking about doing this crime for some time.

Using the materials from one of our friend’s shotgun shells and a .38-caliber brass shell casing, Paul showed me how to make such a shell this morning and it wasn’t hard to do. I first loaded in sand (to simulate the proper number of gunpowder grains), inserted a small cardboard disk as wadding, then the exact number of #6 pellets that were found in Kenzie’s head, and finally a second cardboard wadding disk that would have then been sealed into the casing with wax. It only took a few minutes and it all fit perfectly.

Going just by the numbers, this alternative hypothesis about the probable murder weapon is not only plausible but more likely than the police theory. It answers the vexing question of those 160 phantom pellets. It matches the actual evidence in hand.

Yet counting pellets does not tell the whole story. We must look at the wounds.

I had hoped our friend would have a 20-gauge shotgun and ammo, but he only had 12-gauge (which for the uninitiated is a slightly larger gun with slightly larger shells than 20-gauge—we have 12-gauge equipment). I need to find a 20-gauge shotgun we can borrow, so we can stage and photograph a reconstruction based on the evidentiary facts and see whether this murder could have possibly happened as police claim.

I need to show you point-blank shotgun blasts to melons (or animal cadavers if necessary), so we can see for ourselves if it is possible that the entry wound from a 20-gauge shotgun could have been so small that the police didn’t even know Kenzie had been shot until they placed her body on the gurney.

I need to verify whether she could have sustained no facial damage from a shotgun blast, or if her head would have been blown open or severed from her spine as my gun expert friends say. Now that I know how to make homemade shot shells, I can see for myself if they will replicate the small wound which is documented to have been actually present on the back of Kenzie’s head.

Paul has just brought me a supply of empty .38 caliber shells, and I will be counting out shot pellets through much of the remainder of the day. Not the most mentally challenging work, yet necessary to get at the truth.

Counting was apparently too tough a task for the Pennsylvania State Police to have done from the beginning. This is why the facts in the Jordan Brown case have never added up… and why the days of Jordan’s wrongful imprisonment keep counting up.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Feist performing “1-2-3-4”

28
Jun
10

too quiet in pa

Since the appeal of Judge Motto’s decision to try 12-year-old Jordan Brown as an adult was filed, things have apparently been too quiet for some people.

So true to form, Kenzie’s parents have been stirring the pot—or their cauldron, I should say. Last week they attended a meeting of the Lawrence County Commissioners to ask why Jordan is being housed in an Erie youth facility where he is being treated humanely at a cost to the county and state of $239.34 a day and being allowed “privileges” such as daily visits from his father and the ability to play checkers with the staff. They want to see Jordan moved to the county jail where he would be housed with violent adults at a lower cost to upstanding taxpayers like themselves.

If this story were happening seventy years ago in the South and Jordan were black, he would already be swinging from a tree if the Houks had their way. Every story of injustice must have its Ewell Family, and in this case the Houk Family is it.

One of the commissioners answered the Houks saying that the judiciary is independent and said: “We can’t issue any edict about operation of the court system. We only fund it.” But don’t you think the Houks already knew this before they went to the meeting? Yet it was as good a publicity stunt as all their others.

Of course, if the newspaper story I have just read is a full description of the proceedings (http://www.vindy.com/news/2010/jun/26/family-questions-privileges/), no one stated the obvious: that Jordan is presumed innocent unless proved guilty. Before a trial the state can only detain Jordan, not punish him—though I’d guess Jordan believes he is presently being punished for something he didn’t do.

Nor did anyone say that in the case of juveniles, the state has a responsibility to treat them as children and not small adults. Children and adults do not think and behave the same. Only ignorant and cruel people do not accept this reality. Decent people all over the world are dismayed by this story and what it says about the human condition and American justice.

And nobody, of course, stated that Jordan is being held on the thinnest of evidence gathered through a laughably incompetent and dishonest police investigation, and interpreted by a former prosecutor with political considerations in mind. The police have forensic evidence of a handgun shot to Kenzie’s head and yet make the misleading claim that it is a shotgun wound. The police didn’t even process the crime scene for fingerprints. They probably coerced Jordan’s younger sister into making a false statement incriminating Jordan and colluded with or manipulated the victim’s family to see that Jordan was convicted in the media before his case ever went to trial.

And nobody but nobody dared ask what kind of people these are upon whose vicious accusations and assertions the police and prosecution are relying.

Here is a curious and significant thing I have observed over many months. On Jordan’s website at www.SaveJordanBrown.com and in this Diary, it has been disclosed that Kenzie had been engaged in a bitter child support and paternity battle with a former boyfriend who is the more likely killer or had one of his unsavory friends do it. At one time Kenzie apparently felt threatened enough to take out protection orders against him—maybe after one of his several death threats.

After paying Kenzie for the support of a child he was told was his, the boyfriend ultimately learned through DNA testing that the child was not his after all. Put yourself in his shoes. Don’t you think you’d be a little ticked off, especially if your former girlfriend had already taken up with and was engaged to another man?

Yet about all this, the silence from Lawrence County has been deafening.

No one is talking about it, and for the Houks thankfully so, because no one but me is openly asking the obvious question: What kind of upbringing did this young woman have that she would not know the paternity of her own child, or if she did know, that she would scapegoat and saddle an “innocent” man with the responsibility?

Is the same thing happening now, but this time being choreographed by Mother Deb, a past master of the art and all dressed up in her Sunday best? It is more plausible, really, than the “Addams Family Kid” theory of the crime which has been sold to the credulous media.

I’ll bet if someone went digging into this family’s background, it would be found that they’re not all they crack themselves up to be.

Then maybe it would not be so quiet in Pennsylvania.

On a lighter note…

Please don’t send me angry messages if you don’t approve. I figured it was either him or me, and the ugliness and stench of Otto’s snakebite wound is still fresh in my memory.

I went out to the coop yesterday to feed and water the roosters. We have an old concrete block propped against the gate to keep it closed. I lifted it and, to my great alarm and astonishment, beheld a three-foot-long rattlesnake coiled where the concrete block had been.

Rattlesnakes are welcome anywhere on the property except near our animals or the house, and this guy had broken the rules. He raised his head as if to strike. I had the perfect weapon—the concrete block—in my hands, took aim, and threw it. The snake was not killed, but wounded and immobilized under the weight.

I returned to the house to fetch a long trenching spade, with which I beheaded the snake and put him out of his misery. I cut off the tail to send to Benny, and left the snake’s writhing body for the roosters to eat.

Now we’ll see if it is true that roosters and chickens will eat anything.

(postscript)

They won’t.

13
May
10

appeal is “go”

Yesterday Lawrence County Pennsylvania judge Dominick Motto did the only politically sensible thing he could have done, and modified the wording of his ruling so that Jordan’s lawyers can appeal his ruling that 12-year-old Jordan Brown should be tried as an adult for double homicide.

Judge Motto could have refused to allow an appeal to move forward, but this would have only delayed (and not prevented) the inevitable review of his absurd and unconstitutional ruling by the Superior Court. This also has the advantage of moving the focus of attention (and political risks) from his courtroom to some other judge’s, most likely in Pittsburgh.

We are seeing the first hand-off in a judicial game of political hot-potato upon which careers will be made and ruined.

My guess is that Judge Motto would be relieved, as well, were the defense to win a change of venue for the trial itself. As the real truth comes out in the trial, things will get ugly for everyone who is perceived as having helped this wrongful prosecution and vile persecution of an innocent child to proceed.

Defense attorneys David Acker and Dennis Elisco have thirty days to file their appeal with the state Superior Court. “Obviously we’d rather file sooner than later,” Elisco told Pittsburgh newspaper reporter Chris Togneri. “We’re very happy with this ruling.”

The lead prosecutor, Senior Deputy Attorney General Anthony J. Krastek, immediately shifted into damage control, saying that Motto’s decision is “a delay,” and not a setback. “If Judge Motto thinks he needs, or if he’s asking for, the Superior Court’s opinion and analysis, that’s fine with us,” he said.

Yeah, right.

As this case drags out, it will become readily apparent that the question of whether Jordan is to be prosecuted as a child or as an adult is a sideshow which is diverting public attention from the central reality that the state’s case is based on groundless conjecture, wishful thinking, and no credible evidence. The public will be entertained by the lawyers’ arguments and counter-arguments, jousts and counter-jousts, and all the while will lose sight of the fact that this particular tournament should not even be held at all.

This is a lawyers’ cynical game which is being held at the expense of an innocent boy whose life is now on hold, almost certainly damaged, and forever changed.

04
May
10

appeal

Papers were filed on April 24th appealing Judge Motto’s March 29th ruling that twelve-year-old Jordan Brown is not “amenable to rehabilitation” because he will not admit to a crime he did not commit, and must therefore be tried as an adult and face the threat of a mandatory sentence of life-without-parole.

Yesterday afternoon an argument hearing was held in the Lawrence County courthouse where lawyers on both sides—Dennis Elisco and David Acker for the defense, and Anthony Krastek for the prosecution—presented arguments for and against a defense motion to certify the case to an appeals court, but no new evidence was admitted.

Please permit me to pause here and explain something which has been in plain view all along but needs comment at this juncture.

Q: Based upon what kind of evidence is Jordan being held?

A: Fallacious and disproved evidence! Jordan is being wrongfully accused and incarcerated based on old and discredited information, which, based upon feedback from the state’s own crime lab, the prosecution knows to be invalid.

The court has not yet “learned” that the blue blanket which had figured so prominently in the police crime theory as proof-positive of “premeditation” has come back from the crime lab clean as a whistle: no gunshot residue, no blood, no brains—just an old cigarette burn.

This information about a clean blue blanket has not been introduced as evidence in formal legal proceedings, yet can the judge profess to not already know the truth?

The court has not yet learned that Jordan was similarly spotless: no blood, brains, or residue; his clothing was virtually residue-free, too. This information too has not yet been introduced in evidence, yet can the judge profess not to know this as well?

The court has not yet heard testimony that ballistic evidence and autopsy findings eliminate Jordan’s 20-gauge shotgun as the murder weapon. A handgun was used after the children left for school.

Is this not an experienced judge? Isn’t he supposed to be impartial and fair? Why did his March 29th ruling embrace the prosecution’s constitutionally flawed and absurd argument and presume Jordan’s guilt before the case has even gone to trial?

The last remaining shred of “evidence” the prosecution holds is a third, late-night statement likely coerced from Jordan’s 9-year-old stepsister after two earlier interviews with her failed to create an “eyewitness” to the blue blanket episode the police envisioned. The elements of her statement upon which the police hang their case were excerpted from the interview context and quoted in police reports which were submitted as evidence to the court, yet the officers’ own interview notes were destroyed.

It has been so perversely fascinating to see how the police and prosecution skillfully timed the processing of evidence (and its tardy disclosure to the defense) to have missed a key court hearing on August 29, 2009, when the defense challenged the veracity of the evidence upon which Jordan was and is being held in custody. At that time the all-important blue blanket was still being “processed” at the foot-dragging state crime lab. When the blanket came back clean, the prosecution didn’t change their tune. They just dropped the blanket lyrics.

To our knowledge, no competent forensics expert has to this day ever reviewed the soundness (or lack thereof) of the police field findings and conclusions. The prosecution and the vengeful keep harping on “strong evidence” that a used shotgun shell casing found next to the driveway had been fired from Jordan’s shotgun (just one of many spent shotgun shells in that location), and yet they continue to obfuscate the fact that Jordan’s shotgun was not, and could not have been, the murder weapon. They do not have a shotgun wound on the victim; her fatal wounds are instead consistent with a handgun having been used.

Do you find this skillful manipulation of appearances to be as cynical, outrageous, and ruthless as I do?

Anyway, you can already guess the outcome of yesterday’s hearing: Nothing yet.

Judge Dominick Motto heard the lawyers’ arguments and did not indicate when he will rule on the defense motion to certify the case to an appeals court.

As before, the judge will take his time before he disappoints, surprises, or dismays.

The one official who can most quickly set this case right and end this travesty is Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett. Please write to him and ask him to do the right, wise, and honest thing and abandon the state’s prosecution—as an adult or a juvenile—of this innocent child.

30
Apr
10

time to act

Amnesty International has taken up Jordan’s cause, and on Wednesday launched a letter-writing campaign directed to Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett.

The position Amnesty International is urging letter-writers to express is that international law prohibits life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for anyone who was under 18 years old at the time of the crime; that the crime for which Jordan is accused carries a mandatory penalty of life without parole if he were prosecuted and convicted as an adult; appeal for the State to meet its international obligation to ensure that Jordan Brown not be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole; and to therefore drop its pursuit of a trial in adult court.

I ask you to please consider acting now by writing a letter along the lines Amnesty International recommends.

Here is a link to their campaign announcement, which includes suggestions for writing a letter, as well as background information on international laws and conventions concerned with the prosecution of young people:

http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR51/032/2010/en/2e44b7a1-8c92-4f85-8e93-aa170b4af166/amr510322010en.pdf

My own letter will stay close to their suggestions. Though were I a Pennsylvania voter, I think I could not resist saying something about remembering his office’s actions in this case when voting for governor.

And writing here, I cannot resist reminding Mr. Corbett of what a disaster it was to John Bongivengo’s re-election when he beat up on a little boy to show how “tough on crime” he was and how it backfired. You and I both know your case is based on nothing but the speculation of lazy and intellectually dishonest cops who have failed to produce any convincing evidence to prove their impossible claims. Until now, you appear to have been making the same fatal mistakes Bongivengo did.

Mr. Corbett, now is the time for you to act and demonstrate moral leadership worthy for others to follow. Show some character and good sense and put this case right. End this cruel and absurd political theatre and tell the truth so the community can stop fighting and heal. Give back this child’s life. Do not give the rest of the world another reason to scorn us. Demonstrate wisdom and personal integrity. Admit police errors, exonerate Jordan, and reopen the investigation.

Be a statesman.

(postscript)

For a ready-made letter you can use, please see Gloria’s response to yesterday’s Diary entry, “Powerless.”  There’s some ironic humor there, don’t you agree?