Paul House served 22 years on death row in Tennessee before DNA evidence of his innocence – and the intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court – led to his release.
Paul House had recently moved back to his mother’s house in Tennessee when Carolyn Muncey disappeared from her home on July 13, 1985. Her body was found a day later, badly beaten and raped.
Paul was questioned by police, since he knew Muncey’s husband, but he denied any involvement in the crime, claiming he was in his own house several miles away the evening of the murder. But prosecutors found a hole in his alibi, discovering that he had left his home the night of the murder and returned about an hour later with unexplained cuts and bruises.
Forensic evidence found Muncey's blood type on Paul’s jeans, but serious questions were later raised whether the samples were contaminated en route to an FBI lab for analysis. Nevertheless, Paul was sent to death row in February 1986. While in prison, he contracted multiple sclerosis and was given aspirin to treat it.
His case was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005. On June 12, 2006, the court ruled that any "reasonable juror" would probably not have convicted had they been aware of the new evidence in his favor, and sent his case back to the district court in Tennessee for a full review.
Subsequent state-of-the art DNA testing conducted after the conviction showed that semen on the victim belonged to her husband, not Paul. Blood under her fingernails and cigarette butts discovered near the wooded crime scene also did not match him. In light of the DNA test results and other evidence, prosecutors dropped all charges against House on May 12, 2009.
Today Paul lives with his mother, Joyce, and while permanently confined to a wheelchair, enjoys the outdoors and attending Witness to Innocence gatherings of exonerees and their loved ones.
Libertarian blogger and contributing editor at Reason magazine Radley Balko has an outstanding article on Paul's case here: reason.com/archives