Houston jury can't reach a verdict in one charge; says not guilty in other

Houston jury can't reach a verdict in one charge; says not guilty in other

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Family members consoled each other after hearing of the mixed verdicts. Family members consoled each other after hearing of the mixed verdicts.

By HARLOW SUMERFORD
6 News Reporter

KINGSTON (WATE) -- The jurors in the Rocky Houston trial said Friday they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on one charge of first degree murder, but said Houston was not guilty of the other first degree murder charge.

The jurors told Judge Buddy Scott they could not decide guilt or innocence in the death of Roane County Deputy Bill Jones. They considered charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, felony murder or other lesser charges, but could not reach a unanimous decision.

They found Houston not guilty of first degree murder in the shooting death of Jones's friend, Mike Brown.

The situation was so confusing it took Judge Scott a half hour to explain it.

He did not declare a mistrial on the remaining charges, and said there may be a status hearing to determine what happens next. 

It's likely Houston will have another trial, but it is not clear how the charges will be handled. 

Until then, Houston will remain in jail on a $900,000 bond.

Attorneys told 6 News the situation in court Friday was nothing they have seen in any case they have tried.  

Rocky Houston and his brother, Leon, were charged with first degree murder in the shooting deaths of Deputy Jones and Brown in 2006.

The brothers are  being tried separately. Leon was tried in August, but a mistrial was declared due to a similarly deadlocked jury. He's expected to be re-tried in March.

Security around the Roane County Courthouse was significantly increased Friday as the jury began its third day of deliberations.

Knox County SWAT officers are stationed outside the courthouse. They are fully armed with assault rifles. 

Roane County deputies said the additional security was just a precautionary measure. Some SWAT team members have been seen sporadically during the trial, but Friday is the biggest presence seen so far.

After meeting for just under an hour Friday, jurors sent a question to Judge Scott about the definition of the word facilitation.

Judge Scott instructed them that there are a couple of meanings of the word and for them to apply it as they see fit.

The jurors began their deliberation of the murder case late Wednesday afternoon.

 

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