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Houston's behavior a concern for court

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By The Staff

By DAMON LAWRENCE

rclawrence@bellsouth.net

Rocky Houston’s behavior was a topic once again during a pretrial hearing on Friday.

“Your conduct in court is of great concern,” Special Judge James “Buddy” Scott told him.

Rocky’s conduct is also a concern outside the courtroom.

After allegedly scuffling with officers after a hearing on Oct. 10, Rocky entered Roane County Criminal Court wearing a mesh spit mask with his hands shackled behind his back.

Scott told Rocky he would allow the spit mask to be removed if he promised to behave.

“Absolutely,” Rocky said.

Rocky and his brother, Leon, are each charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony murder.

They are accused of killing Roane County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Jones and his friend Mike Brown on May 11, 2006.

Brown, a former lawman, was riding with Jones when they were shot to death outside of Leon’s home on Barnard Narrows Road.

Rocky’s trial is scheduled to start on Nov. 10.

Leon was tried in July, but Scott declared a mistrial after the jury announced that it was hopelessly deadlocked.

He’s supposed to be retried next year.

Chief Deputy Tim Phillips said last week that they planned to charge Rocky for the scuffle that happened on Oct. 10.

He allegedly spit on officers and head butted Phillips.

There were around a dozen armed officers in the courtroom on Friday.

As a result of behavior concerns, Rocky’s movement to and from the courthouse is now being videotaped.

Scott said that’s so there won’t be any dispute as to what happened if there are any more incidents.

The upcoming trial was discussed during the hearing.

Rocky and Leon contend they were defending themselves when they fired on Jones and Brown, and attorney Randy Rogers said he plans to use the defense of self defense at trial.

“I do not intend to raise an insanity or diminished capacity defense,” Rogers said.

Rogers said he wanted to make that clear to the court because a motion he filed may have given the appearance that he was trying to lay the groundwork for an insanity de-fense.

Rocky also wanted Rogers to convey a series of matters to the court before the hearing concluded.

One of them dealt with recently appointed special prosecutor Kenneth Irvine.

Irvine was once a judge in Knox County.

Rogers said Rocky believes Irvine has a conflict of interest because he was appointed to his judgeship by Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Though the case involves murder, Leon wanted to talk about something else before he left the courtroom.

“May I speak,” Leon asked Scott.

“You speak through your attorney,” Scott responded.

Leon then directed attorney James Logan to announce to the court that Logan had a conflict of interest because he will be a witness in a case involving an illegal insurance scheme.

“Insurance fraud,” Leon uttered, as he was leaving the courtroom.

Logan said he was not a witness to anything, except what has gone on in the courtroom.

Logan also asked to withdraw as Leon’s attorney.

Scott told him he would take the matter under advisement. For now, Logan is still the attorney of record, Scott said.

Logan spoke about his request to withdraw following the hearing.

He said lawyers have rules of ethics which require a contract of employment.

Logan said his has expired.

“The judge gave us time to try to obtain such contract,” Logan said. “My announcement today is that we are unable to reach an agreement.”