Jennings: Houston property search cause without video

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By Damon Lawrence

Even without surveillance video, federal agents had probable cause to search the Houstons’ property in January, according to Assistant United States Attorney David Jennings.

“The affidavit supporting the issuance of the warrants clearly established probable cause,” Jennings wrote in a court filing earlier this month. “Several individuals, including two of the defendant’s (Leon Houston’s) sisters, an in-home nurse, and a confidential informant, disclosed to law enforcement personnel their personal knowledge that the defendant and his brother (Rocky Houston) kept numerous firearms on the property.”

Rocky Houston is charged with 14 counts of being a felon in possession of firearms. Leon Houston faces one count of possessing firearms while being an unlawful user of a controlled substance.

Rocky Houston was convicted of a felony in state court in 2010. Last year the feds and the Roane County Sheriff’s Office started looking into the allegations that he was possessing firearms.

“The confidential informant indicated that Rocky Houston had at least two pistols on his body at all times, one tucked in the front of his pants and one in the back,” Jennings wrote. “He also said that the defendant (Leon Houston) and Rocky Houston carried the same caliber firearms so they could buy ammunition in bulk.”

Jennings also said they received information that the Houston brothers carried at least one firearm whenever they left the family farm.

“And that if Rocky Houston was wearing a long-sleeve shirt, that was a good indication that he was or had been carrying a firearm,” Jennings wrote.

The court filing was a response to motions filed by Leon Houston’s former attorney requesting to have surveillance video and other evidence in the case suppressed. In October of last year law enforcement agents placed a camera on a public utility pole on Dogtown Road, which allowed agents to observed what the Houstons were doing. Their activities, according to the government, included target shooting.

Jennings said law enforcement officers found at least 26 firearms, ammunition, 13 ounces of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, dried marijuana leaves and residue when they executed search warrants at the Houstons’ property in January.