Monday, September 22, 2008
The Paul House Tragedy Continues: What More Does the DA Want?
by Pete Kotz
on Mon, Sep 22, 2008 at 2:42 PM
Paul House case
In 2007 I met with Joyce House the mother of Tennessee death row inmate Paul House who had been incarcerated on Tennessee’s death row for over 20 years for a crime which new evidence including DNA indicated he did not commit. I was so disturbed by the injustice of this situation that as a Representative of the people of Tennessee I determined I would take action.
I drafted a letter to Governor Bredesen, signed by over 30 of my colleagues from the legislature asking him to pardon House. The Governor chose to let the courts handle the matter thought the U. S. Supreme Court that had already stated in 2006 that “it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror viewing the record as a whole would lack reasonable doubt”.
Finally in May 2008 Judge Harry S. Matrice ruled that House’s conviction and sentence be overturned. District Attorney General Paul Phillips subsequently decided to retry Mr. House this time seeking a life sentence. The trial is set to begin on October 14, 2008. Because of the generosity of anonymous citizen of Tennessee, House was able to make bond as he awaits trial. Thankfully he is now living with his mother in Crossville and must wear an electronic monitoring device as he sits in his wheelchair.
Recently General Phillips decided to test a hair found in the victim’s hand, a hair which has been in the state’s possession since the crime occurred. Phillips stated that if this hair did not belong to House he would consider dropping the charges. The hair was tested and in a hearing in Chattanooga on September 18, it was revealed that the hair does not belong to House.
But instead of conceding that a mistake was made 23 years ago, General Phillips has created a new theory to the crime and states that he now believes that “another man’s hair was somehow transferred onto Muncey by House”.
As a State Representative I am committed to ensuring that the citizens of Tennessee have faith in the justice system.. The case of Paul House casts grave doubt on the “justice” of the system. Given that the state of Tennessee is dealing with a significant budget shortfall how can we justify the cost of another trial for Mr. House with no evidence pointing his guilt? How much money has already been spent attempting to keep House on death row? Now with even more DNA evidence pointing to House’s innocence how can General Phillips justify his decision to move forward with a new trial?
I urge General Phillips to drop the charges against Mr. House restoring confidence in our system and saving Tennesseans precious dollars needed elsewhere. Mr. House has spent 23 years on death row for a crime the evidence indicates he did not commit. The charges against Paul House should be dropped ending an ordeal that has gone on far too long.
State Rep. Mike Turner
A letter just received from Rep. Mike Turner (D-Old Hickory) on the continuing tragedy that is the