Yesterday in a surprise move, District Attorney Paul Phillips stated that if Paul House’s DNA is not found on a hair discovered in Carolyn Muncey’s hand following her murder, he will consider dropping the charges against House. If the DNA from the hair or other evidence belongs to a third party, Phillips says he will not prosecute.
In an interview with a Knoxville news station, Joyce House asks the million dollar question, “If the state has had this hair all along, why hasn’t it been tested before now?” The state has been sitting on evidence for 23 years that could have exonerated House, and yet, it has done nothing, except fight tooth and nail to keep any evidence which casts doubt on the conviction out of the courts.
Sadly, in this case as in many other death rows cases, the emphasis seems to be on getting and maintaining a conviction, even if an innocent person is convicted. Where is the justice in such a system?
I hope that the Tennessee Committee to Study the Administration of the Death Penalty does a thorough examination of the Paul House case and how such a travesty could have occurred. This case highlights the reasons why such a Committee must do the hard work of examining this system and not succumb to any political pressures which might want to see this study quickly end as demonstrated in the battle to get the study extended. Tennesseans deserve better. Lives are at stake.
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