Charges dropped against former death row inmate Paul House

Charges dropped against former death row inmate Paul House

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Paul House Paul House

By HANA KIM
6 News Reporter

MAYNARDVILLE (WATE) -- In a surprise move Tuesday, the state dropped all charges in the 1985 murder case against former death row inmate Paul House.

The decision came in a hearing at the Union County Courthouse. Paul House wasn't there.

Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood agreed to the state's petition after prosecutors said they're certain House, 47, had some involvement in the death of Carolyn Muncey in Union County, but they're not sure whether he acted alone or may have been an accessory.

District Attorney Paul Phillips says the state dropping the charges doesn't mean House is innocent.

"There is very adequate proof that Mr. House was involved in this crime. We just don't know the degree of culpability beyond a reasonable doubt," Phillips said..

There's an open investigation by the TBI and the Union County Sheriff's Department into Muncey's death.

The defense didn't know the charges against House would be dropped until Tuesday's hearing.

Defense attorney Dale Potter says he believes the state dropped the charges because of new information about new persons of interest. There's no word on who the persons of interest are or whether the state is close to charging anyone else in the case.

Potter also pointed out that in April, testing again failed to find DNA from House on evidence that would have been used to retry him for Muncey's murder.

However, the tests confirmed that blue jeans worn by House, have two blood stains from Muncey. The state maintains the blood didn't get on the jeans due to negligence by investigators.

But the tests also found DNA from one of the stains is a combination of Muncey's and an unknown male, according to a lab analysis by Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings in North Carolina dated March 24.

Although the jeans belonged to House, previous expert testimony raised questions about the stains, saying that the blood came from vials of Muncey's blood collected after she died.

House's retrial was scheduled to begin June 1.

Muncey's daughter, Laura Tharp, said she'd like to know the "whole truth" and that one day the person or people responsible for her mother's murder will be prosecuted.

Tharp said she still believes House played a role in her mother's death to an "extent."

House spent nearly 22 years on death row after he was convicted of killing Muncey.

The U.S. Supreme Court concluded in 2006 evidence that emerged years after his original trial cast doubt on that conviction.

House, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair, was released in July 2008 from prison into his mother's care at her Crossville home to await his re-trial.

Paul House is a registered sex offender in Utah.

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