Update: Thriving at home after 13 years on death row with multiple sclerosis
Paul House lived with multiple sclerosis for 13 of 22 years on Tennessee's death row before DNA evidence freed him.
August 16th, 2011
03:52 PM ET

Update: Thriving at home after 13 years on death row with multiple sclerosis

Paul House left Tennessee's death row nearly four years ago a crippled man. Sure, he was free, but after 13 years of living with multiple sclerosis in prison, he was a gaunt shell of a man, unable to walk or barely talk, scared to go out in public for fear of being harassed.

Now, he’s a different person, says his mother, Joyce House. He has new teeth, and an affinity for Arby’s beef-and-cheddar sandwiches has helped him gain weight. Thanks to treatment and medication, he can communicate with others and play online poker. When it’s not too hot outside, he exercises on parallel bars in his mother's backyard so that one day, he can hopefully transition from a wheelchair to a walker.

Most importantly, he has overcome a fear of public scrutiny that had haunted him since his release in 2008, after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that new DNA evidence could have led a jury to acquit him in the 1985 murder of Carolyn Muncey. House spent 22 years on death row before his release.

"When he first came home, he didn't want to go anywhere. He was so afraid people were going to come up to him and say, 'oh you're a murderer,' " his mother said. "I told him people know you're innocent, I know you're innocent, you know you're innocent. He’d say, 'yeah, but does everyone else know?' "

House was placed under house arrest in 2008 while he awaited retrial. In 2009, a month before his trial, Union County District Attorney Paul Phillips filed a petition to drop all charges, saying DNA evidence presented significant reasonable doubt.

"Took 'em long enough," House said at the time.

His lawyer said he has filed a petition for executive clemency, which would provide for financial compensation. "He’ll never be able to walk, but he still strives to one day reach the walker,” Joyce House said.

"He says, 'whenever I get to where I can walk with the walker, we're going to see Mr. Kissinger,' the lawyer who set him free," she said.

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Filed under: Crime • Death Penalty • Health • Tennessee
soundoff (246 Responses)
  1. tim

    Hmm, how many convicted rapist's have committed murder? More than a few. The Supreme Court never said that the evidence couldn't convict him if he were retried. And yes there are horrible people who need to be put down to keep them from ever being released into the general population again.

    August 17, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Philippa

    I cannot understand why keeping a person on death-row for many years is not considered cruel and unusual punishment, regardless of guilt or the lack of it.

    August 17, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Justen beiber

    Jerry's kids?

    August 17, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Pawel

    I have been very moved by this story. Is there a mailing address where I could send a gift for Mr. Paul and his mother? I would appreciate a reply
    Pawel

    August 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. plenty

    This poor guy is lucky he wasn't in Texas, Rick Perry would have juiced him.

    August 17, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. tim

    It's people like Philippa why we have to have the death penalty, so some pansy doesn't let a wacko like Charles Manson out of prison. If their dead then some nut job won't be able to let them walk free among law abiding citizens.

    August 17, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. tim

    They're, sorry.

    August 17, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. wavejump1100

    i wouldnt say being able to play online poker is thriving but at least he is doing better

    August 17, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. betty brown

    terrible – now someone needs to tell him about the CCSVI procedure that could possible help him alot, many have gotten relieve from this, MONTEL JUST HAD IT DONE TOO.

    August 18, 2011 at 1:03 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Pawel

    Seriously, would anybody have any idea how to get in touch with them?

    August 18, 2011 at 3:44 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Pawel

    Ehh, nobody seems to read this.

    August 22, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kina Lee

      You could call the Knoxville News Sentinel in TN and talk to a reporter and ask him/her. He's still in our area.

      September 14, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  12. Kina Lee

    If you all knew how redneck the county was and still is, you would know how easily they had him tried, convicted, and ready to die. I have followed this case from day one and was in shock !! "Well, he looks guilty so he must be cuz that's what Bubba's mother's brother told me. And ya know, he never lies."

    September 14, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse | Reply
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