He killed his dad's pregnant girlfriend when he was 11 -- but should he pay for that the rest of his life?
A 12-year-old boy might be tried as an adult in the shooting death of his father's pregnant girlfriend -- and could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Jordan Brown is one of the youngest murder suspects in the country. He faces two counts of homicide, and he pleaded not guilty to the charges last May.
His family, however, wants him tried in juvenile court. His next hearing is March 12.
Police say Brown, then 11, shot Kenzie Marie Houk once at point-blank range in her farmhouse in western Pennsylvania on February 20, 2009. According to investigators, the weapon was a youth model 20-gauge shotgun -- designed for use by children -- that belonged to the boy. The gun was reportedly a Christmas gift from the boy's father, who was training him to be a hunter.
Houk was eight months pregnant with Brown's father's child, and also had two daughters, 7 and 4, who lived in the rural home with the Browns. Authorities said it was in that home that Houk was slain as she lay in bed.
Police said that after the shooting, Brown hopped onto a school bus with Houk's oldest daughter. He was picked up from school several hours later after tree trimmers called 911 when Houk's youngest daughter told them she thought her mother was dead.
We asked psychologist Dr. Michelle Golland for her perspective. "This is a sad situation where a cry for help was not heard in time," says Dr. Golland. "Jordan's family had reported in the weeks before the shooting that he had been sharing his anger at the father's girlfriend and even had said he wanted to kill her. It seems his frustration with his home life had come to a boiling point when he took his own shotgun and killed Kenzie Houk."
"Adolescent depression can often manifest itself as rage and frustration," says Dr. Golland. "The problem is that children don't have the same brain functioning that adults do to realize the full ramifications of their behavior. It is imperative that when children express anger and threaten people in their lives, we take them seriously and take action to keep them and those around them safe."
Challenges of Blended Families
"Blending families together can be very challenging because each child is going to fear the loss of his or her power or position in the family," says Dr. Golland. "It is important that children feel they can openly and honestly discuss their thoughts and feelings about becoming a new family. Often the parents in a blended family are happy and feel so pleased to have found love again that they believe everyone -- including the children -- is as happy as they are. But this is unrealistic. It is important that the families who are being blended consciously deal with the power differential between the parents and the children, so they can handle these issues lovingly and respectfully."
Do you think that Jordan Brown should be tried as an adult?