11-year-old Pennsylvanian is youngest person in world to face life without parole

By Daniel Tencer
Tuesday, January 25, 2011 20:46 EDT
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Boy’s claim of innocence prompted judge to try him as adult

A Pennsylvania boy who was 11 years old when he allegedly shot and killed his father’s pregnant fiancee could find himself being the youngest person ever sentenced to life without parole.

Human rights campaigners have said the case shows the US’ justice system to be unusually harsh towards juvenile offenders, and argue that a life sentence for the boy could violate international law.

Prosecutors allege that Jordan Brown, now 13, shot and killed 26-year-old Kenzie Houk as she slept in her home in Lawrence County, near Pittsburgh, in February, 2009. Houk was pregnant with a nearly full-term child at the time. Brown was charged with two counts of homicide.

Brown’s lawyers on Tuesday argued an appeal against a judge’s earlier decision to have the adolescent tried as an adult.

Pennsylvania’s laws on juvenile trials are among the least accommodating in the country, with juvenile suspects in homicide cases automatically tried as adults, unless a judge decides otherwise.

According to WTAE in Pittsburgh, the judge’s original decision to try Brown as an adult was based on Brown’s refusal to admit guilt. Brown’s lawyers argued Wednesday that the decision violated his right to be presumed innocent, as well as his right to avoid self-incrimination.

Deborah Houk, the victim’s mother, had little sympathy for Jordan Brown’s plight.

“He knew what he was doing. He killed my baby,” she said of Brown in an interview not long after the murders. The Houk family has put up a website attempting to dispel a growing movement seeking to defend Brown.

But human rights group Amnesty International said that Brown is the youngest person the international organization knows of anywhere in the world facing a life sentence without possibility of parole.

“It is shocking that anyone this young could face life imprisonment without parole, let alone in a country which labels itself as a progressive force for human rights,” Susan Lee, Amnesty International’s director for the Americas, said in a statement.

Amnesty notes that the US is one of only two countries in the world who have refused to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Somalia is the other country.

Jordan Brown is the youngest person known to Amnesty International to be currently at risk of being sentenced to life imprisonment with no parole. However, there are already at least 2,500 people in the US serving life imprisonment without parole for crimes committed when they were under 18.

According to the Guardian, Pennsylvania has 450 juveniles serving life sentences, more than any other state.

The Supreme Court has been moving in recent years towards greater protection for juvenile offenders. It ended the death penalty for people under 18 in 2005, and last year made homicide the only crime for which juveniles can be given a life sentence.

The Washington-based Sentencing Project told the Guardian that the US is the only country in the world that has juveniles serving life without parole. “That leads to only two conclusions: either kids in the US are far more violent than those in the rest of the world, or the US has developed uniquely harsh sentences.”

Jordan Brown’s father, whose fiancee was killed that night in 2009, agreed with the Sentencing Project, saying his son was too young to fully understand the consequences of his actions.

“Try to explain to a 12-year-old what the rest of your life means,” he said. “It’s incomprehensible for him.”

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  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    Google “HTML” it will tell you how to underline and bold
    Plus many other handy ways to express yourself without appearing to SHOUT

  • Anonymous

    Your inability to construct a proper sentence directly detracts from your point!

  • Anonymous

    Lock him up. Forever.
    So what if he’s eleven?
    Do-gooders on the lookout to get one over on the government by using others as their shields is sickening.
    They’re nothing more than anarchists trying to justify their means.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TU47ZQSNVT36GNVAUXFI4NDFVY Melissa

    I like my steak rare, still wiggling practically. With a side of bacon.
    You need to up your medication

  • http://twitter.com/GarethCotter Gareth Cotter

    Disgusting that a child can be imprisoned for his entire life.

    Thankfully this would never happen in the UK.

    Awful legal system in the US.

  • Anonymous

    thumbs down…! ur disgusting as what u perceive….get for real

  • Anonymous

    not familiar with 11011…

  • Anonymous

    thks funny….when did capital lettering start being shouting? not in my time, it also means READ THIS…..SEE ME…..NOTICE WHAT I AM SAYING…IT’S NOT JUST SHOUTING….so remember that…written like that u might not, SO…. REMEMBER THAT (in a whispering loud tone)….if this was coloring it would be JUST very bright colors…(0= smiles no words just happy fun colors……thks for the help…

  • Anonymous

    I grew up a very peaceful little girl till some bad things happened to me & life changed. By my teens I was yelling alot but it started in the streets of Chicago defending my self verbally mostly, at times physically when I needed to in our neighborhood with friends or alone. I’m female by the way. in my late 30′s.

    And yes your paragraph is so true, absolutely agree. I am hard on my self, raised very strictly so something I’ve been working on & balancing. Wanted to join the Marines in 95 but realized I couldn’t give myself to a Nation that was going to repeat in answering back, as in the Crusades, in the next revolving revolution of battle – the terrorists. USA is a mythology based on many things, one of them being the Crusades. So of course I couldn’t go forward into something that wasn’t & isn’t the answer. But was something I partly admired for it’s virtue -Semper Fie-Always Faithful (to one self aswell as others), not it’s vices, imperfections. And for what it represents, the battle we face with painful cruel realities within & without.

    I expect the impossible, that is what’s before us so painfully. I have a vision, a dream of what seems impossible but know it can not because what & how we are from our birth, baby’s, beings loving & caring. And yes it starts in our own little world because making others do anything is force not freewill. And that’s where it begins – our little piece of it.

    Had a nice day till my son didn’t call after school like he usually does & is suppose to. Finally called me after dark! He was out with his friends playing in this icy cold day. A child’s power is amazing. I remember doing almost anything during that time of my existence. Every child is different but they all express this in some way. My nice day is back since he called & we are well, thank you. How about yours?

  • Anonymous

    And when the vegetarians rule what should we do with those like you? Therapy? Defiantly a big YES! And make you view videos of slaughter houses, no visit & smell the stench! Your not any different than the 11 yr old boy reported here. You have shown you are as he has done in your response. People who don’t kill the animals they want to eat themselves are lazy two face hypocrites forcing others to do it for them – that’s slavery! Your evil now, not the beautiful baby you were….it’s not permanent though. Something in Nature has to happen to slap you on the face & on your filthy mouth. Your the CRAZY ONE talking the way you do hormonal biotch Freak…

  • Anonymous

    P.S.- to Melisa – u kill indirectly as you said almost to the point you would eat the cow herself alive “still wiggling”- your the one that needs to re-evaluate yourself (medicate with self analyzing). Everything I have seen you say someone already said it. Your a copy cat. “You need to up your medication” is such a FAD…. your such a robot, fake, phony.

  • Anonymous

    Fine…you were the one asking for help, it was given.
    Best wishes.

  • Anonymous

    my thks above in edited form….8 0 *)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_URAW7D2IN32YJA2ARAKN6LECTM MelissaH

    There is much more to this case than there appears. There is no physical evidence linking Jordan to these murders. He shot guns on the family property with his father. The spent shotgun shell that belonged to his shotgun and the very small amount of gunshot residue on his shirt may be explained by this. He should not have been arrested and charged with these crimes. There is much more here:


  • Anonymous

    thumbs down get for real…it’s pathetic every where…life’s NOT a game …

  • Guest

    No really took u long enough….

  • Anonymous

    hey MelissaH sorry about that realized u weren’t the other Melissa & i erased it but this damn weird thing keeps happening & it becomes Guest, so then I can’t erase….sorry again & thks for this! I’ve been waiting when someone was going to comment on this relevance…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2BHBDPQP6MALSR4D6MHKIEFERQ Paul Gagliardi

    Your sick