- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2009

NEW CASTLE, PA. (AP) - The clothing of an 11-year-old accused of killing his father’s pregnant fiancee had gunshot residue on it, a state trooper testified Tuesday at his preliminary hearing, where the boy was held for trial.

Trooper Troy Scott Steinheiser testified the clothing was taken from Jordan Brown the evening of Feb. 20, the day Kenzie Marie Houk, 26, was found dead in the bedroom of the farmhouse in Wampum, where she lived with her two daughters, Brown and his father, Christopher Brown.

Tests revealed the residue, Steinheiser testified. Another trooper, Sgt. Kenneth Markilinski, testified that he found a 20-gauge shotgun in Brown’s upstairs bedroom and it smelled as though it had recently been fired.

Investigators contend that Brown placed the youth-model shotgun _ a Christmas gift from his father _ to Houk’s head as she slept and shot her once, killing her and causing her unborn son to die of a lack of oxygen. The fetus was nearly full-term. Brown is charged with two counts of homicide.

Houk’s family has suggested Brown was envious of Houk, but one of his attorneys has dismissed that claim and said there was no animosity.

Brown was led into the courtroom with his hands cuffed and shackled to a belt on his waist. He appeared to sit calmly throughout the two-hour hearing.

Attorney David Acker said Lawrence County District Attorney John Bongivengo presented little to connect Brown to Houk’s death. As for the gunshot residue, he suggested that Brown could have gotten it on his clothes by brushing up against the gun, or perhaps that his clothes had not been washed for some time, as he had been known to fire a gun.

But Bongivengo said he only had to show that a crime had been committed and that Brown could have committed it.

“I have a shotgun blast to the back of the head that’s consistent with a 20-gauge shotgun shell, I have a 20-gauge youth-model in his room which smells like it’s recently fired and he’s got gun residue on him. I think at this point, that’s more than enough,” Bongivengo said.

Defense attorneys said they need more evidence to understand what happened. Brown denies shooting Houk, defense attorney Dennis Elisco said. “There’s never been an admission,” he said.

After the hearing, Houk’s father, Jack Houk, said Houk’s two daughters, ages 4 and 8, are holding up. “I hug them and kiss them every day,” he said.

More than a dozen people sat on a side of the courtroom designated for the Houk family. Some wore red rubber wristlets bearing her name.

Jordan’s father attended the hearing but did not speak to reporters.

Brown is being held at a juvenile facility in Erie. His attorneys say he will likely remain there until trial and that a bail hearing scheduled for Friday will likely be postponed.

“He’s OK. He wants to be with his dad. He wants to be home,” but has adjusted and is attending classes there, Elisco said.

Brown is charged as an adult; District Judge David Rishel ruled Tuesday that Brown should stand trial. Defense lawyers said they plan to file a motion to transfer the case to juvenile court.

No trial date has been set.

(This version CORRECTS the judge’s title to district judge.)

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