Pennsylvania’s highest court is overturning the conviction of a then-11-year-old boy in the 2009 shotgun slaying of his father’s pregnant fiancée, saying prosecutors didn’t provide enough evidence to support it.
The state Supreme Court’s 5-0 ruling Wednesday reversed a finding by a juvenile court judge in Lawrence County, upheld by a state appellate court, that Jordan Brown was guilty of first-degree murder and homicide of an unborn child.
Brown, now 20, was charged in the slaying of 26-year-old Kenzie Houk, who was eight months pregnant.
Justices attacked the evidence as insufficient, saying among other things that trial evidence pointing to a shotgun in Brown’s bedroom as the murder weapon supported an equally reasonable conclusion that it wasn’t the murder weapon.
“Here it seemed, justices felt the evidence could be interpreted in two different ways, and obligation is on the prosecution to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Attorney Matt Mangino.
Justice Debra Todd wrote the majority opinion, and her writing included a lengthy analysis of the evidence.
“Her conclusion was although there was evidence presented, it wasn’t enough to convict and overturn the decision,” Mangino said.
Brown served seven years in detention before being released in 2016.
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