No jail time for Rocky

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By Damon Lawrence

Despite convictions for evading arrest and reckless endangerment, Rocky Houston walked out of the Roane County Courthouse a free man on Friday. 

The state didn’t argue for jail time during his sentencing hearing, and Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood did not impose any.  

“It’s needless to address these issues,” Blackwood said. “You’ve already served more time than this court could ever grant you on a conviction.”

Rocky had spent more than three years behind bars when he was let out of jail in May. The release came after the state let the deadline to contest an appeal in his murder case lapse.

Rocky was charged with murder for the deaths of Roane County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Jones and his ride-along passenger Mike Brown. 

The men died in a shootout with Rocky and his older brother, Leon, on May 11, 2006.  

The Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the state is prohibited from trying Rocky again because Judge James “Buddy” Scott improperly dismissed the jury in his December 2008 murder trial. 

The evading arrest and reckless endangerment convictions stemmed from a 2004 police chase. A jury found Rocky guilty of those charges during a trial in April. Evading arrest is a felony. 

Even though he did not impose any jail time, Blackwood upheld both convictions. 

Blackwood sentenced Rocky as a standard offender on the felony. 

Gerald Gulley, Rocky’s attorney, said the sentencing range was one to two years. Gulley said he felt no jail time was appropriate since Rocky had already served in excess of that time.  

“Your honor, I’d like to go on record, I feel like that’s going to mess my appeal right up by you not sentencing me to some time,” Rocky said.

Gulley told him it would not.

“Your appeal rights have been reserved,” Gulley said.   

Leon was escorted from the courtroom for disrupting the proceedings. 

“Let’s go, Mr. Houston,” Roane County Sheriff’s Major Ken Mynatt told him.

Leon shouted allegations of conspiracy as he was being led from the courtroom. 

For years, the Houston brothers have accused officials from Kingston to Nashville to Washington, D.C., of plotting to violate their constitutional rights. They continued to make those allegations in court on Friday. 

Blackwood appeared fed up with all their conspiracy talk. He said that if anybody in Roane County has ever benefited from the court system and the Constitution, it’s the Houston brothers.

“They have had the benefits of a fair trial,” he said. “They’ve had the benefits of appeals. They’ve had the benefits of every right that these courts and the courts of Roane County can afford these defendants, and instead of blessing this judicial system, they find nothing in the world but to attack it as some paranoid fear of a conspiracy that they are going to unravel in Roane County.”