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Rocky Houston was on his best behavior during Thursday's hearing at the Roane County Courthouse. However, that wasn't enough to convince Judge James "Buddy" Scott to lower his bond. After close to six hours of testimony, court recesses and arguments by lawyers, Scott decided that bond for Rocky Houston and his brother Leon Houston should remain at $900,000 for now.
Rocky and Leon Houston are charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count each 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 was out on a ride-along with Jones when they were shot to death South of the River.
Defense lawyers contend the brothers acted in self defense. The $900,000 bond for each brother was set by Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood during a preliminary hearing in August. During that preliminary hearing, Blackwood described the state's case as not very strong and suggested that what transpired between the Houstons and the deceased men could have been a case of mutual combat.
Lawyers for both brothers argued relentlessly on Thursday that the bond amount should be lowered, contending every defendant has a constitutional right to a reasonable bond, and that $900,000 is way too much for two working men presumed to be innocent.
Scott didn't deny the request to lower the bond. He said he was just delaying his ruling, so he could have time to research the matter. Scott said the seriousness of the charges compelled him to leave the bond at the current amount for now.
Rocky Houston appeared to be a changed man in court on Thursday. He was still dressed in jail clothes with his arms and legs shackled, but his demeanor was completely different from what it's been in the past. There were no outbursts and the only communication he made with his family was a wink of his eye.
Rocky even testified on his own behalf and answered most of his lawyer's questions with either a "yes sir" or "no sir." Despite his improved conduct, Rocky's past actions still came into play.
When discussing the issue of bond, Scott referred to comments Rocky has made in the past about a conspiracy against him that has ties all the way to the White House and the president of the United States. Scott said that kind of thought process concerns him.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Dec. 17. Scott could make his ruling on the bond request at that time.
For more on this story, read Monday's edition of the Roane County News.