has taken note
of Tennessee death row inmate Paul House's tragic case, about which the Scene
extensively. This case is one of the more sobering and mean-spirited legacies of both Gov. Phil Bredesen and the Tennessee Attorney General's Office, who are dragging their feet on a case they know they've bungled despite the chronic and life-threatening condition of an innocent inmate.
Multiple sclerosis has Paul House in a wheelchair. A tenacious prosecutor has him on death row, deemed too dangerous to be released two years after the U.S. Supreme Court said he likely isn't guilty.
Paul House sits on death row despite a ruling that says evidence raises reasonable doubt about his guilt.
That closely watched ruling, which made it easier for inmates to get new hearings on DNA evidence that emerges after their trials, and the fallout from it have left House in limbo while a prosecutor methodically battles every effort from the courts to have him retried.
Federal judges have done as the high court ordered: They reviewed his murder case and concluded new evidence raises reasonable doubt about his guilt. Not allowed to overturn the conviction, they took the extraordinary step of giving Tennessee a six-month deadline to bring House to trial or release him.
And still House, 46, is locked up in a Nashville prison.
An appeals court ruled in his favor this month, but that ruling also reset the 180-day countdown at zero.
U.S. District Judge Harry S. Mattice Jr. has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday to consider terms and conditions of House's release, but prosecutors are taking their time in setting a date for a new trial.
"The Supreme Court has said, 'You just got the wrong person.' You would think ... that there would be some respect for that situation," said U.S. Circuit Judge Gilbert S. Merritt, who has heard portions of House's case and believes he isn't guilty of murder.
District Attorney Paul Phillips said he plans to retry House with old evidence from the first trial and some new evidence he wouldn't describe. He promises he has "proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. House is guilty or we would not be re-prosecuting him."
Right. DNA evidence released long after House's trial shows that House did not rape the victim, as the prosecution claimed—which was the aggravating factor it cited to get him death in the first place. In fact, it was her husband—the same man who later confessed to multiple people that he killed her.