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By DAMON LAWRENCE
Testimony is under way in Rocky Houston's double murder trial. Pat Brown, the mother of Mike Brown, was the first witness to take the stand this morning.
Brown, a former lawman, was on disability when he was shot to death on May 11, 2006.
“He got his first check the week before he was killed,” Brown said.
Houston is accused of killing Brown and Roane County Sheriff's Deputy Bill Jones. Brown was out on a ride-along with Jones when they were killed. The state claims their deaths were the result of a premeditated ambush perpetrated by Rocky and Leon Houston. The brothers, who are being tried separately, claim they acted in self defense.
During opening statements, special prosecutor Kenneth Irvine described Rocky as an angry man with an itchy trigger finger, who didn't appreciate the fact that Jones and Brown were traveling down Barnard Narrows Road that May day.
“He's just upset that they're on his road,” Irvine said. “He's well armed and upset.”
The incident took place outside of Leon's home. Irvine said Jones' purpose for going there was to serve a warrant on Rocky. It cost him dearly.
“He paid for it with his life,” Irvine said. “He paid for it with the life of Mr. Brown.”
Brown, Jones and the Houston brothers all fired weapons that day. Defense attorney Randy Rogers claimed Rocky's actions were sparked from him being shot.
“He got shot in the back of the buttocks,” Rogers said. “Key word back.”
During his opening statement, Rogers also hinted that Rocky may take the stand in his defense.
“Rocky Houston is going to tell you, if he testifies, what happened,” Rogers said.
Judge James “Buddy” Scott started the morning by taking up an issue with juror No. 7. Before she left on Thursday she expressed a concern with the court.
“That concern that you have also concerns the court,” Scott said.
Scott had the juror write her concern on a piece of paper. After reading it, he sent her back to the jury room.
“Thank you for your candor,” he said. “I'll take this up with the attorneys.”
After the bench conference, juror No. 7 was called back into the courtroom. The issue was resolved, and she was allowed to remain on the jury.
“She told me that she will follow that oath,” Scott said.
The jury, which consists of 12 women and four men, was sworn in at 9:14 a.m.
Scott won't be holding court this Saturday or Sunday. He said he wants to see how the trial is progressing before deciding whether to hold court on the weekend.
“The first weekend I'm going to have you folks give me some idea after we worked here today as to how the evidence is going to proceed,” he told attorneys.
On Thursday, juror No. 8 wanted to know if Scott planned to hold court this Saturday because she's the caregiver for elderly woman and would need to make arrangements.