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Local News

  • Retrial planned in Leon Houston case

    By DAMON LAWRENCE

    rclawrence@bellsouth.net

    The dry piece of tissue Eva Yates clutched in her hand told the story.

    “I had my crying towel out, but I didn't have to use it,” Yates said as she left the Roane County Courthouse on Sunday.

    Yates had just learned the jury deliberating the fate of her nephew, Leon Houston, was hopelessly deadlocked. Judge James “Buddy” Scott declared a mistrial in the case.

    “I'm pleased with it,” Yates said of the outcome.

  • JULY 25: Jurors to deliberate Saturday

    By DAMON LAWRENCE

    rclawrence@bellsouth.net

    By DAMON LAWRENCE

    rclawrence@bellsouth.net

    In his closing arguments Friday, special prosecutor Robert "Gus" Radford called two defense witnesses liars in the Houston double murder case.

    Radford gave a rundown of the testimony as he tried to convince a Roane County jury to convict Leon Houston on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony murder. The jury will start deliberations on Saturday.

  • JULY 24: Leon Houston's fate soon to be in jury's hands

    By DAMON LAWRENCE

    rclawrence@bellsouth.net

    By DAMON LAWRENCE

    Tobey Yates is not a fan of local law enforcement.

    “I've had a lot of trouble with them myself,” Yates told special prosecutor Robert "Gus" Radford Thursday afternoon.

    Radford sought to use Yates' admitted disdain as well as his criminal history to discredit his testimony in Leon Houston's double murder trial. Yates was one of only two people called by Houston's defense.

  • HOUSTON TRIAL PHOTO GALLERY
  • JULY23 EVENING UPDATE: Body armor wouldn't have saved Jones' life

    By DAMON LAWRENCE

    rclawrence@bellsouth.net

    Bill Jones was not wearing a bullet-proof vest the day he lost his life.

    Even if he was, the body armor still wouldn't have saved him. A medical examiner testified on Wednesday that two gunshots Jones suffered to the head were not survivable.

    “Either one would be immediately disabling and fatal,” Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan said.

  • WEDNESDAY NOON UPDATE: 'There was gunshots flying everywhere'

    By DAMON LAWRENCE

    rclawrence@bellsouth.net

    Life has been difficult for Mildred Anne Watts since she witnessed a shootout on May 11, 2006.

    “I walk around with that fear every day of my life still,” Watts said.

    Two of the participants in that shootout are dead. The other two, brothers Rocky and Leon Houston, are facing life in prison on charges of first-degree murder and felony murder.

    Watts continued to recall her memories from that day during testimony in Leon's murder trial Wednesday morning.

  • Storms rumble through county

    By JENNIFER RAYMOND

    rcraymond@bellsouth.net

    Heavy storms that roared through Tennessee Monday hit hard in Rockwood.

    The storms started around 4 p.m. and brought high winds, hail, a downpour and lightning.

    It also left about 4,000 Rockwood Electric Utility customers without power at the peak of the storm.

    “That’s about one-fourth of our system,” General Manager Kendall Bear said.

    Areas that saw a significant amount of outages were Eagle Furnace, South Rockwood and the mountain above Rockwood.

  • County ready to set tax rate

    By JUDY UNDERWOOD

    Morgan County News Editor

    The county’s budget committee has reached an agreement on the budget for Fiscal Year 2008-09, according to Morgan County Executive Becky Ruppe.

    Ruppe said Monday night that the committee has completed its work and will publish the proposed budget in next week’s Morgan County News prior to the county commission meeting planned for Aug. 11. Commissioners are expected to adopt the budget and set the tax rate at that time.

  • Early Voting ends Saturday, Aug. 2

    By JUDY UNDERWOOD

    Morgan County News Editor

    Early Voting for the August General Election and the Democratic and Republican primaries will continue until Saturday, Aug. 2.

    Just for Early Voting, the Election Commission office will be open a half-day on Saturday, according to Administrator of Elections Minnie Armes.

    The county’s only Early Voting site will be in the Election Commission Office located on the first floor of the Morgan County Courthouse.

  • HOUSTON UPDATE: Eyewitness says Brown fired first

    By DAMON LAWRENCE

    rclawrence@bellsouth.net

    rclawrence@bellsouth.net

    “It's on now.” Mildred Anne Watts said she heard Rocky Houston utter those words when he saw a patrol car approaching his brother's home on May 11, 2006.

    Moments later a shootout erupted with Rocky and his brother Leon on one side. The occupants of the patrol car, Roane County Sheriff's Deputy Bill Jones and friend Mike Brown, were on the other.