CONWAY — An attorney for the 17-year-old charged with trying to kill his adoptive parents by setting their home on fire while they were sleeping has been given time to decide whether the Conway teenager should undergo a mental evaluation.
In the Oct. 28 pretrial hearing in Faulkner County Circuit Court for Titus Jordan of Conway, 20th Judicial District Judge Troy Braswell accepted Jim Lane’s request for time to determine whether the Guy-Perkins senior will undergo the evaluation. Jordan is also represented by Lynn Plemmons, managing attorney for the public defender’s office in the 20th Judicial District.
Jordan is charged as an adult with two felony counts of attempted capital murder and one felony count of arson for the incident, which occurred Aug. 26. According to the arrest affidavit, he confessed to setting fires inside and outside the home in downtown Conway, where he lived with Gage and Katie Jordan, who is pregnant.
Also, attorneys filed a motion in October for the case to be transferred to juvenile court, which the state has objected to in its response.
Defense attorneys agreed on Oct. 28 to waive the 30-day requirement for a transfer hearing, and Braswell scheduled another court hearing for 9 a.m. Dec. 2 in Faulkner County Circuit Court.
“It was all postponed to give Lynn and me time to figure out what we’ll do,” Lane said.
Lane, a part-time public defender who works exclusively in juvenile court, said the attorneys will report to the judge at that time on whether they will file a motion for a mental evaluation for Jordan.
Plemmons said the evaluation may have a bearing on the number of witnesses needed for the pretrial hearing on the request to move the case to juvenile court.
Prosecuting Attorney Carol Crews said in the state’s response, filed Oct. 25, that “considering the seriousness of the alleged offense and all other factors pertaining to this defendant,” the state objects to the transfer to juvenile court. Also, the state contends that the “protection of society requires the prosecution of this case in the criminal division of circuit court and that the alleged offenses were committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated and willful manner.”
Gage Jordan said following the hearing that he and his wife would prefer that Titus’ case not be transferred to juvenile court for several reasons, including because he is so close to turning 18.
“It’s a point of diminishing return — what services could juvenile actually offer him?” Jordan asked.
Lane said the incident occurred when Titus Jordan was under 18, and “it’s not unusual to file for a transfer, for somebody 17, [when they will] turn 18 during the process.”
Gage Jordan said the court case is frustrating because there is a lot of “hurry up and wait.”
The Conway couple fostered Titus Jordan in March 2018 and formally adopted him in October 2018.
Since then, Gage Jordan said, he and his wife have completed the termination of the adoption, and the teenager is in the care of the Arkansas Department of Human Services until he turns 18, which is in February.
Jordan has been in the Faulkner County Juvenile Detention Center in lieu of $250,000 bond. The court also approved a no-contact order that bars Titus from contacting the couple.
Titus Jordan spoke to both of his attorneys as he came into the courtroom through the side door, before they approached the judge, but Titus did not speak during the hearing.
The Jordans were present in court, as was one of Titus’ sisters; an Arkansas Department of Human Services representative; Louise Witcher, who serves as the Court Appointed Special Advocate for Titus; and Karil Greeson of Conway, who also fostered Titus.
Gage Jordan said he and his wife, who will celebrate their ninth wedding anniversary in November, tried to have children for years without success. He said they had talked about fostering and adopting when they were dating. Jordan said his wife’s pregnancy was a surprise, and their daughter is due in March.
He said Titus had known about the pregnancy for about six weeks before the fires.
Jordan said he woke up shortly after midnight on Aug. 26 when he smelled smoke, and Titus was gone. Later, they found that Titus had taken clothes and most of his belongings. Titus was arrested Aug. 26 when he returned to the home and was noticed by someone, who called the
Detective Hayden Schmitt of the Conway Police Department said in the arrest affidavit that Titus admitted to starting a fire in the kitchen, to pouring gasoline on the exterior of the exits of the house and to starting the fires outside his bedroom window and on the front porch.
Officer Wesley Pence reported that he found a cardboard box leaned up in the hallway that was covered with an oily substance, and the couple said the box wasn’t like that when they went to bed.
Schmitt reported that he went back to the Jordans’ residence after the interview with Titus and found a journal that appeared to be written by Titus. It said that he was unhappy living with the Jordans and “how he wished they would die” so he could live with a friend, according to the affidavit.
District Chief Jeff Moix of the Conway Fire Department said in his report that there was burn damage to the siding above and below the window, the floor mat and post on the front porch had been ignited, and there was a strong odor of gasoline at the exterior exits.
Jordan said the gas can that he uses to fill the lawn mower was missing from their shed.
In the affidavit, Jordan said he realized the day after the fire that the smoke alarms hadn’t gone off, and he had Schmitt go with him to the home. The batteries were missing from Titus’ bedroom smoke detector and one in the hallway, and Jordan said he found the batteries in the kitchen trash can.
A Go Fund Me Account established by friends of the Jordans raised the goal of $25,000 in four days to help the couple pay for repairs and rehabilitation to their home. Gage Jordan said insurance would not pay because the fires were determined to be arson by a person living in the home. Katie Jordan has been on leave from her position as speech pathologist in the Guy-Perkins School District.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-5671 or email@example.com.