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Houston spitting incident going to court

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By The Staff

By DAMON LAWRENCE

dlawrence@roanecounty.com

Rocky Houston is still awaiting a decision from an appeals court about his murder case.

However, an unrelated matter that involved a scuffle with officers is moving forward.

The incident happened on Oct. 10, 2008, at the Roane County Courthouse. Houston allegedly became unruly while Roane County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Tim Phillips and Kingston Assistant Police Chief Wes Stooksbury were escorting him out of the courthouse.

“As we got to the bottom of the steps, Mr. Houston attempted to pull away from us and obstruct our efforts to safely escort Mr. Houston to the patrol car,” Stooksbury’s complaint states.

“While we attempted to maintain control of Mr. Houston, he turned toward me and did assault me by spitting in my face. Mr. Houston then turned toward Tim Phillips and assaulted him by spitting in his face.”   

Houston was charged with assault. He’s scheduled to appear in Roane County General Sessions Court today, Jan. 11.  

During a jailhouse phone interview in October, Houston accused the officers of concocting the incident to try and make him look bad before the start of his murder trial.    

“It was an attempt to taint the jury pool, but it didn’t work,” he said.

Houston and his older brother Leon were charged with two counts of first-degree premeditated murder and one count of first-degree felony murder for the deaths of Roane County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Jones and his ride-along passenger Mike Brown.

They died in a shootout with the brothers on May 11, 2006.

Rocky was tried in December 2008. The jury found him not guilty of first-degree premeditated murder for the death of Brown.

The jury also returned not-guilty verdicts on seven lesser included offenses, but former Houston judge James “Buddy” Scott ruled the verdicts on the lesser offenses did not count because the jury failed to follow proper instructions.

Rocky has appealed. The state wants to retry him, but he argues that would constitute double jeopardy, which is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.

The Court of Criminal Appeals heard arguments in the case in November. The court has yet to give a decision.

Rocky remains in custody, but his brother is a free man. Leon was found not guilty on all charges during his trial in November.  

The shootout happened outside of Leon’s home on Barnard Narrows Road. The brothers claim they acted in self-defense after Jones and Brown pulled up shooting.

Leon is also scheduled to appear in court today, Jan. 11, on some misdemeanor charges that were pending before the shootout.