EXONERATIONS: Charges Dropped Against Former Tennessee Death Row Inmate

The state of Tennessee has dropped all charges against Paul House, a death row inmate first convicted in 1986. House was accused of the rape and murder of Carolyn Muncey based largely on circumstantial evidence. DNA evidence used against him at trial was later found to belong to Muncey’s husband. In House v. Bell, the U.S. Supreme Court considered the new DNA tesing and questions about blood stains on House’s clothes. In 2006, the Court held that no reasonable juror would have found House guilty based on this new evidence, thus entitling him to raise constitutional issues that led to a reversal of his conviction.

In 2008, a Tennessee judge ordered House released from prison, pending a new trial.

(J. Satterfield, “Prosecutor drops murder charges against ex-death row inmate House,” Knoxville News Sentinel, May 12, 2009). Since 1973, 131 other inmates have been exonerated and freed from death row, including another man from Tennessee. This is the second exoneration in 2009 in the U.S. See Innocence.