James Logan Jr. took the case of Leon Houston after he had been charged with the 2006 murders of Roane County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Jones and his ride-along friend, former law enforcement officer Mike Brown.
Logan was able to successfully defend Houston against those charges in 2010 and then foreclosed on a portion of a large piece of land owned by Houston and his brother, Rocky, in order to recoup legal fees.
Prosecutors showed during the trial the foreclosure action had irritated Houston, after which he threatened Logan’s life in a call to his girlfriend from the Blount County Jail. He had been incarcerated while awaiting trial for a federal gun charge of which he was later acquitted.
The phone call during which the threat had been made was recorded, and played a decisive role in getting the conviction.
Houston acted as his own attorney for the recent charge, but did not take the stand or call any witnesses.
Logan told U.S. District Court Judge Danny C. Reeves on Tuesday he feared for his life from Houston.
“Mr. Logan has reason to be fearful of Mr. Houston,” Reeves said.
The judge could have used federal sentencing guidelines, giving Houston a 16-month sentence, but chose to impose a “statutory maximum” of five years.
The judge also said Houston “held no remorse or respect for human life.”
“He only respects his own twisted sense of justice,” Reeves said. “He is truly a dangerous person.”
Houston has also been ordered to receive mental health care as part of his sentence.