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When Rocky Houston is sentenced in federal court, his fate will be determined by the same judge who sentenced his brother.
Houston attorney Michael McGovern contended U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves should recuse himself from the sentencing because of what he was exposed to during the trials and sentencing of Leon Houston, who is Rocky Houston’s older brother.
The judge disagreed.
“Houston’s motion has no factual support and no legal merit,” Reeves said in his order of denial.
Much of the exposure McGovern referred to has to do with a 2006 shootout that took place between the Houston brothers and Roane County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Jones and his ride-along Mike Brown. Jones and Brown, a former lawman, were killed in the shootout.
The Houstons faced first-degree murder charges in the state court, but were never convicted.
The judge’s ruling on the latest legal argument included this:
“(Rocky Houston) contends that, ‘but for’ the undersigned presiding over his brother’s recent criminal matters, this information would remain unknown to the court,” Reeves said. “In making this assertion, the defendant conveniently ignores the fact that both he and his attorney have submitted numerous filings in this matter regarding a majority of the information he now asserts requires recusal.”
Reeves also noted that much of the information is public record and contained in Rocky Houston’s pre-sentence investigation report.
“Thus, even if the undersigned had not presided over Clifford Leon Houston’s criminal trials and sentencing hearing, the court would still be presented with the same evidence and information to which he now objects,” Reeves said.
Leon Houston was tried in federal court for possession of firearms while being an unlawful user of a controlled substance and using a telephone communication to threaten to kill Cleveland, Tenn., attorney James Logan.
He was found not guilty of the firearms charge, but convicted of threatening to kill Logan.
Reeves gave Leon the maximum five-year sentence on March 4.
A federal jury found Rocky Houston guilty of being a convicted felon in possession of firearms. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday at the federal courthouse in Knoxville.
McGovern filed a motion on June 21 to postpone the sentencing hearing, but Reeves denied that motion on Monday.
U.S. Marshals moved Rocky Houston to the Irwin County Detention Center in South Georgia after the jury verdict in his federal case.
He was recently brought back to East Tennessee, where he’s being housed at the Knox County Jail while he awaits sentencing.