TBI WITNESS: Bullet taken from man's body matches Leon Houston's gun

UPDATE 7/18/08 5:48 p.m.: KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WVLT) -- For the second straight day, jurors at Leon Houston's double murder trial have heard hours of testimony about bullets and other pieces of evidence collected outside Leon’s home following the gun fight that left a deputy and a former officer dead.

With dozens of bullets fired that day, the trial is a slow process, but very important.

Testimony Friday linked bullets recovered from a victim's body to the guns recovered from Leon Houston and his brother, Rocky, who will face the same charges at trial in November.

TBI Crime Lab agent Robert Royse says, "This is a collective exhibit of numerous bullet fragments found inside the driver's door."

Everyone at trial agrees there were dozens of shots fired by the Houstons and at them when deputy Bill Jones and Mike Brown arrived to serve an arrest warrant on Rocky in May 2006. But presenting evidence at trial is not that simple. That's why TBI Forensics expert Robert Royse has been on the stand for more than a full day, answering questions and introducing evidence, one bullet at a time.

Royse says, "It was actually on the driver's side between the seat back and the seat cushion."

In addition to testifying about where the bullets were found, Royse also tells jurors which guns they came from.

Royse says, "This particular bullet was fired through the barrel of this Glock 36."

On Thursday, jurors saw that handgun. Prosecutors say they recovered it from Leon Houston along with this semi-automatic assault rifle allegedly used by Rocky Houston. The Houston's aunt and uncle testified Thursday that the brothers left the guns at their house minutes after the shooting.. The TBI was able to match both guns to bullets recovered from the patrol car and the bodies of those who were in it.

Royse says, "It was submitted to the crime lab by the pathologist following the autopsy of Mike Brown."

The TBI expert matched bullets and fragments found during Brown's autopsy to both guns. He also testified about the path the bullets took, saying some were fired very close to the patrol car where the lawmen died.

Royse says, "The following eight were fired within 13 feet of the vehicle."

Jurors will get to rest over the weekend.

When the trial resumes, many more witnesses are expected, including a doctor who will testify about the way the victims died.

When all the evidence is in, jurors will decide if Houston is guilty of murder, which could send him to prison for life.


KINGSTON, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Jurors at Leon Houston's double murder trial are hearing more about dozens of bullets and other evidence found at the scene of the deadly shootout that left a deputy and a former lawman dead.

It's taking hours of testimony for prosecutors to walk through each and every piece of physical evidence recovered outside Leon Houston's home after the May 2006 gunfight.

TBI Crime Lab agent Robert Royse spent four hours on the stand Thursday, and he picked up where he left off first thing Friday morning.

Leon Houston and his brother, Rocky, who will be tried for the same crimes in November, have never denied that they fired the shots that killed deputy Bill Jones and Mike Brown, a disabled former deputy who rode with Jones to serve a warrant at the Houston home in the Ten Mile community.

The Houstons say it was self defense, arguing the officers fired first, but prosecutors say it was the Houstons who led the ambush, with Rocky firing at least 22 shots with a semi automatic assault rifle and Leon shooting a handgun eight times.

The prosecution argues the Houstons filled the patrol car with shots, leaving the victims with no chance to escape.

The TBI Crime Lab agent testified Friday that several of the shots were fired within a few feet of the car.

"These were fired at a sharp downward angle, for a person to have fired at a distance of greater than 13 feet, they would have had to be on a stepladder or on stilts or something."

TBI agent Royce says he was able to match a bullet taken from Mike Brown's body with the handgun identified as having been recovered from Leon Houston.

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