TCASK Press Release: Legislators Call on Governor to Free Paul House

Nashville: Today Representative Mike Turner (D- Hickory Hollow) held a press conference to call on Governor Bredesen to free Tennessee death row inmate Paul Gregory House, who has been on Tennessee’s death row for 22 years. Representative Turner presented a letter signed by more than 30 members of the Tennessee General Assembly, both Democrat and Republican, calling on the Governor to issue a full pardon to House.

“The United States Supreme Court has said that no reasonable jury would convict this man if they looked at all the evidence now available in the case,” said Turner. “We should do the right thing and get this man home to his mother instead of letting him die in prison. Tennessee is an honorable state, and we’re better than that.”

House has been diagnosed with progressive Multiple Sclerosis. He is confined to a wheelchair and his health continues to degrade. There is deep concern that he could die in prison. House was convicted of the murder of Carolyn Muncey in 1985, but since that time DNA has evidence conclusively proved that House did not commit the rape which the state presented as the theory of the crime. Moreover, new witnesses have come forward testifying that Muncey’s husband confessed to killing his wife, and forensics evidence has demonstrated that blood found on House’s pants did not come from Carolyn Muncey’s body but rather from vials of blood taken from her body after death. In June of 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that House met the standard of actual innocence, i.e. that “no reasonable juror would lack a reasonable doubt” in the case.

Joining Representative Turner were Joyce House, Paul House’s mother, and Charlie Strobel, a representative of Murder Victim’s Families for Human Rights whose mother was murdered.

“On my last visit, Paul told me that he thought he would die in prison, and I told him no you won’t!” said Joyce House, “Governor Bredesen, just imagine what you would feel as a parent if your son was in the same situation. Please, Governor, send my son home to me.”

Turner plans to present his letter to the Governor with a delegation of his fellow legislators in the coming weeks. He hopes that such a broad spectrum of legislators will convince the Governor to closely examine the case and decide to take action.

“I believe that the Governor is a fair man,” said Turner. “He and his wife have been terrific champions of victims’ rights over the years. In this case Paul House is a victim.”

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