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By DAMON LAWRENCE
A request by murder suspect Rocky Houston to act as his own lawyer has been denied.
Rocky and his brother, Leon, are accused of killing Roane County Sheriff's Deputy Bill Jones and his friend Mike Brown, in a shootout on May 11, 2006.
During a hearing in March, Rocky repeated his request to Judge James "Buddy" Scott that he wished to represent himself in the case. Scott took the matter under advisement and issued a ruling last week denying Rocky's request.
Rocky and Leon are scheduled to appear in Roane County Criminal Court on Tuesday at 10 a.m. for a motions hearing. Their trial is tentatively scheduled to start in July.
Also last week, Chancellor Frank Williams signed off on a search warrant to allow a tree outside of Leon's home at 412 Barnard Narrows Road to be examined by the TBI for bullets. The shootout between the brothers and the deceased men took place at the home.
According to a court document, TBI forensic scientist Daniel Royse processed the crime scene after the shootout and reported seeing fresh bullet entrance holes and marks on a large tree near the driver's side of Jones' patrol car. Brown was riding with Jones. TBI special agent Bradley Nealon said there is cause to believe evidence of the alleged crime may be in the tree.
The records say the caliber and trajectory of the bullets could shed light on how the shooting transpired.
Rocky and Leon contend that Jones and Brown were the aggressors, and they acted in self defense. The brothers have made notice to the court that they plan to use the defense of self-defense at trial.
The brothers are also asking the court to have potential jurors answer questions about potential biases during selection and have the jury sequestered for the upcoming trial.
The judge could take up all those motions at Tuesday's hearing.
For more on the Houston case, read Wednesday's edition of the Roane County News.