Jury gets case in Leon Houston's retrial, deliberations start Thurs.

Jury gets case in Leon Houston's retrial, deliberations start Thurs.

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Leon Houston Leon Houston

By ANN KEIL
6 News Reporter

KINGSTON (WATE) -- The jury got the case Wednesday night in Leon Houston's retrial. They'll return Thursday morning at 8:30 to start deliberating.

Houston, along with his brother, Rocky, is charged with first degree murder in the 2006 fatal shootings of Roane County Deputy Bill Jones and his friend and former officer, Mike Brown.

After the defense finished presenting its case Wednesday afternoon, Leon told Judge David Hayes he didn't want to testify.

Leon also didn't testify in his original trial.

The state did not present any rebuttal witnesses.

Leon could be found guilty of first degree murder or several lesser charges including facilitation, felony murder, second degree murder, manslaughter or reckless homicide.


State's closing: evidence says murder

Prosecutor Ken Irvine began the state's closing argument by repeating words Rocky alleged said on the day of the shootings, "It's on now."

According to one witness, Rocky's statement was made before the deputy's cruiser had entered the Houston driveway.

Irvine told the jury Leon made a decision after the shooting started to keep Brown in the cruiser.

Jones and Brown could start shooting if Rocky was running at them with a rifle, Irvine said, but that didn't happen. "Rocky shot first."

Irvine asked jurors to pay attention to the physical evidence. "Both men were murdered."


Defense's closing: "No one in this courtroom knows the sequence of the shots."

Defense attorney Jim Logan told the jury that Leon fired back at the officers in self defense.

"Bullets are being fired at him and at his home," Logan said. "His brother is in the line of fire."

Logan also disputed testimony presented by the state, including testimony from Anne Watts, who was an eyewitness to the shootings. He reminded the jury that Irvine said her testimony was inconsistent, so it shouldn't be considered as evidence.

Logan reminded the jury that the FBI doesn't record or write out statements from witnesses, calling that "shocking."

Logan said he's not disputing the physical evidence in this case. He's disputing the conclusions the prosecution has made.

"No one in this courtroom knows the sequence of the shots," Logan told the jury.


Jury hears testimony from missing witness

Before the jury was brought in Wednesday morning, defense attorney Logan called a chief deputy to the stand Wednesday morning to verify that witness John Christopher Knox couldn't be found.

Then Logan called private investigator Kenny Coleman to the stand to testify about his attempts to serve Knox.

Coleman said Knox lives deep in the woods and he refused to go in there to look for him. He said he called Knox who denied his identity on the phone. Knox usually meets people on a four-wheeler.

Whitney Holmes 6 News Reporter Ann Keil is following the trial on Twitter

Judge Hayes decided the defense made a "good faith effort" to locate Knox, and agreed to have Logan read his testimony from Leon's original trial to the jury.

The jurors weren't told why Knox wasn't there.

Logan took the witness stand and read that Knox had met Deputy Jones before. The deputy and Mike Brown were also at Knox's house the day of the shootout, in regards to a dispute with Knox's neighbor.

Logan read that Knox testified Jones said before going to the Houston, "We've got two to take care of after we leave here."

Knox apparently didn't know Jones and Brown were killed for days.


Houstons' aunt takes stand

The defense called Leon's Aunt Juanita Johnson to the stand. She and her husband, Ray Johnson, live across the field from Leon's house.

Johnson described the snacks she brought Leon from Wal-Mart before the shooting. She told Logan that Leon didn't have a weapon on him.

Johnson also said a sheriff's cruiser drove by while she was talking to Leon, and he didn't leave the house.

She also said soon after, "We heard all these shots ringing out." They went outside and saw the cruiser, then went back in, feeling "real nervous."

Johnson testified that Leon and Rocky ran to their house. "Leon said, 'Rocky's been shot.'" She said Rocky's pants and shorts were soaked with blood. "It was running all down my kitchen floor."

She said her husband took care of Leon and Rocky after that. He took Rocky to a hospital in Oak Ridge where Rocky was arrested.

On cross examination, prosecutor Ken Irvine asked about the cruiser driving by before the shooting. Johnson said Leon "waved them on."


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