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DNA Test Ordered in Tennessee Death Case

November 23, 2002|From Staff and Wire Reports

NASHVILLE — A divided federal appeals court Friday ordered the Tennessee Supreme Court to review the case of a condemned killer to consider DNA evidence that could clear him.

In a 6-5 ruling, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals also asked the state court to consider whether the death penalty is still an appropriate punishment in the case.

Paul G. House, 40, was convicted and sentenced to death for killing Carolyn Muncey in 1985.

Muncey's children said she left the house after a man told her that her husband had been in a car wreck.

Her battered body was found at the bottom of a wooded embankment near her rural home.

The appeals court said DNA evidence found on Muncey's body -- attributed at trial to House, based on a blood test -- matched the victim's husband. DNA-matching technology wasn't available during House's trial.

The 6th Circuit majority also said that since the trial, two independent witnesses testified that Muncey's husband admitted he was the killer.

Prosecutors argued at trial that House raped Muncey, citing semen evidence.

The appeals court said DNA evidence has now "conclusively shown" the semen was not House's, raising questions about the evidence jurors relied on in making their decision.

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