Man wrongly convicted of killing father's pregnant fiancé when he was 11 found out only after two years why he was in prison

While it took nearly a decade of fighting to clear his name, Jordan Brown says it almost took him two years to even find out why he was in jail.


                            Man wrongly convicted of killing father's pregnant fiancé when he was 11 found out only after two years why he was in prison

A 21-year-old man who was wrongfully convicted in the shooting death of his father's pregnant fiancé in 2009 has spoken about the incident and claimed it took him over two years to find out why he had been arrested. Jordan Brown was just 11-years-old when he was pulled from his bed, arrested, and charged over the death of 26-year-old Kenzie Marie Houk and it would take him over a decade to clear his name.

After an extended legal battle, Brown was finally released this past July, with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unanimously overturning Jordan's adjudication of delinquency — the term that replaces "convicted" in a juvenile court — on a first-degree murder charge. Now, in an interview with Juju Chang for ABC's 20/20, Brown details his confusion and horror over being apprehended over a crime he did not commit.

Brown was just 11-years-old when he was arrested for the murder (Source: Lawrence County Jail)
Brown was just 11-years-old when he was arrested for the murder (Source: Lawrence County Jail)

"I can't remember if they told me what happened. I knew that my stepmom passed away. I didn't how, or what was going on. And I didn't know that I was there because of that," he says in the interview. "I didn't know until, I don't know, maybe until I was like 13, 14 maybe."

He would go on to spend around seven years locked up in a facility for juvenile delinquents. "'I was 11 years old when this all happened. I had no idea what was going on," he said. "All I remember is waking up, the police taking me, and I was in jail, and that was it."

According to the Daily Mail, at the time of the murder, Brown had been living with his father, Kenzie, and Kenzie's two daughters, seven-year-old Jenessa and four-year-old Adalynn, in their home on Wampum-New Galilee Road in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. Kenzie, who was pregnant at the time, was found dead at the home on February 20, 2009, shortly after Brown had left for school with Jenessa.

It was found that the 26-year-old had succumbed to a single gunshot wound to the head, and her unborn child did not survive either. Investigators uncovered a youth-sized shotgun in the home that they claimed had been recently fired and said they also discovered gunshot residue on Brown's shirt and pants. He was subsequently arrested, despite there being no physical residue from the murder on the firearm or DNA, blood, or fingerprints linking him to the crime. 

Kenzie Marie Houk (Source: Find a Grave)
Kenzie Marie Houk (Source: Find a Grave)

He was adjudicated delinquent in 2012 of first-degree murder and first-degree homicide and would only see his name cleared earlier this year, with a 47-page report from the Supreme Court stating that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that Brown had committed the murder. It is still unclear who shot and killed Kenzie.

Speaking about the case at a press conference, Christopher Brown, the 21-year-old's father, said, "You go from hours, to days, to weeks, to months and then years — and here we are nine years later. Half of his life he spent in this system to get to our final day today. To me, that’s an issue. That’s an issue."

Brown's full interview with Chang airs on Friday, October 19, at 10 p.m. Eastern on ABC. Besides interviews with Brown and his father, it will also feature his attorneys Dennis Elisco and Stephen Colafella, and Marsha Levick, Deputy Director and Chief Counsel of the Juvenile Law Center. Former Pennsylvania State Police officers Jeffrey Martin, Troy Steinheiser and Robert McGraw, who worked on the case, John Bongivengo, the initial District Attorney who prosecuted the case, and Bob Mayo, a local reporter who extensively followed the story, also feature.