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JULY 18 UPDATE: Bullet from Leon's gun found in cruiser

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By The Staff

By DAMON LAWRENCE

rclawrence@bellsouth.net

A TBI forensics expert testified Friday morning that a bullet from a Glock allegedly fired by Leon Houston was found in the cruiser Roane County Sheriff's Deputy Bill Jones was driving the afternoon he died.

TBI forensic scientist Robert Daniel Royse showed the jury a slide show that indicated shell casings from Leon's Glock pistol were found near a bush outside Leon's home.

Royse also said that a fired bullet was found sitting on the passenger seat of Jones' police cruiser.

Friday was the second day of Royse's testimony in Leon Houston's double-murder trial.

The casings were found at the scene of a deadly shootout that took place outside of Houston's home on May 11, 2006.

Houston and his brother Rocky were on one side of the gunfight and Jones and a friend, Mike Brown, were on the other side. Jones and Brown died in the shootout. The state contends they were ambushed, while the brothers contend they acted in self defense.

“He made a statement that he was trying to protect his family at the time of the shooting,” THP Sgt. Mike Melhorn testified earlier this week. Leon turned himself into Melhorn without incident a day after the incident.

Royse has yet to testify about who fired first, and he may not. During a preliminary hearing last August, he testified that based on the evidence gathered at the scene, there was no scientific way to determine who shot first.

Leon and Rocky are charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony murder in the deaths of Jones and Brown, a former police officer, who was on a ride-along with Jones.

Royse also testified that bullet fragments recovered during Brown's autopsy were fired from the Glock and a high-powered assault rifle with a banana-shaped clip that was allegedly fired by Rocky.

Royse said 22 shell casings fired from the rifle were found at the scene. Royse said scientific evidence showed that eight of those were fired within 13 feet of the patrol car.

“They could have been fired at a closer range than that, but not further,” Royse said.

The jurors have heard almost seven hours of testimony from Royse since Thursday. Lead defense attorney James Logan has tried to raise questions about some of his conclusions. Judge James “Buddy” Scott explained to the jury that Royse is what's considered an expert witness.

“Experts are individuals that come here to give us opinions,” Scott said.

Royse told Logan on Thursday that as a scientist, he's here to report what was found at the scene and the conclusions he drew from that evidence, regardless of how it impacts either party.