This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

That's what happens in our criminal system. It happens in the courts; it happens in the investigations; it happens among "us", the people that read these cases. And well, I will get on my high horse and say that I would like to exclude myself from the "us" because I believe in the old-fashioned way of "Innocent Until Proven Guilty".

And while I do not have access to in-depth files, profilers, the minutia of detail, I still choose to read between the lines -- the lines where the media influences one direction and most people follow.

Fortunately, there are people like me who have access to the things I don't. One group of people are called The Innocence Project. They actually accept cases that EVERYONE ELSE BELIEVES IS OVER and conduct their own investigation.

I first really learned about The Innocence Project after I read Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA. It is a book I highly recommend for people to read because it outlines exactly why I think investigations -- and the media -- go awry and convict without due cause. These people MOLD THE CRIME AROUND THE PERSON THEY FEEL IS GUILTY. So what you read is not the truth; it may appear to be a cut-and-dry case, but unless you were there, or there is concrete evidence, YOU WILL BE LED TO BELIEVE WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO BELIEVE. There is no humanity in crime and there is no humanity in attempting to convict the right people.

Maybe one day I will post my own opinions on notorious cases that most people believe, without a doubt, are correctly judged. If you know me, you know the cases and for most of you, you are incredulous that I would feel differently than WHAT THE MEDIA MADE YOU BELIEVE. And usually, I get questioned and the questions asked are just plain stupid. When my answers don't match what THE MEDIA MADE YOU BELIEVE, YOU CONTINUE TO SPILL THE SAME SPIEL THAT THE MEDIA MADE YOU THINK WAS RIGHT.

But because I am so content with my beliefs, and I have a holier-than-thou attitude that I know better than you because I am able to think with a clearer mind, I don't feel the need to convince you that you are wrong.

But because it is a deeply intense subject matter for me, I prefer to discuss not-so-famous cases, specifically from the work by The Innocence Project.

Here is a short recap of Paul Gregory House. A man convicted of rape and murder in 1985.

On the afternoon of July 14, 1985, Muncey’s body was found under a brush pile in a ravine less than 100 yards from her home in Luttrell, Tenn.

She had disappeared the previous night, while her two kids slept and her husband was out drinking at a local dance. She’d been killed by a blow to the head, and there were signs of a fierce struggle.

At first, people around Luttrell whispered they’d seen it coming -— that Hubert Muncey Jr., a drunk known for giving his wife black eyes and bruises, had gone too far.

But within days, Union County police arrested Paul Gregory House, a 23-year-old paroled rapist from Utah who had just moved to Tennessee and was friendly with the Munceys.

Paul Phillips prosecuted the case in 1986. He says House became a suspect the day after the murder, when he inadvertently led a witness to the body.

"This witness is out in his car, searching for some sign of Carolyn Muncey, and he sees House come up this bank. When he came up the bank, he's carrying this black cloth. And we believe that that was his shirt that he had lost from the night before," says Phillips. "That’s why we think he went back to the body. This witness went back to that very spot and discovered her body under the bank hidden under brush."

House told police he’d been home the entire night. But his live-in girlfriend, Donna Turner, blew his alibi, saying he left their trailer-home about 10:30pm to go for a walk, and was gone a little over an hour.

"According to Donna Turner, when he came back to the house that night, he was exhausted. He was panting. He was sweating. He had no shirt. He had no shoes," says Phillips. "His hand was all swollen up. He had scratches on various parts of his body. I mean, that's significant. You don't get that in ordinary activities.”

He told Turner that he'd been jumped by two men in a pick-up truck, and that one of them fired a gun at him as he ran through the woods to escape. His lies, physical injuries and incredible story made House the prime suspect. But the case was still entirely circumstantial.

Eventually, what did him in was the forensic evidence: semen stains on Muncey’s nightgown, and what looked like blood on House’s jeans. The clothes and samples of Muncey’s blood were boxed up and sent to the FBI lab in Washington D.C. for analysis.

At the trial, an FBI serologist delivered the coup de grace. He testified that the semen found on Muncey’s clothes came from someone with the same blood type as House.

This happened before DNA testing, so he couldn’t say for sure that it was House. But he also testified that the blood found on House’s jeans was consistent with Muncey’s blood.

The jury took less than four hours to convict House of first degree murder. House has been on Tennessee’s death row ever since. In the last few years, he's developed severe symptoms from multiple sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair. He also has difficulty speaking.

In 2002, this article stated:
Now, the DNA evidence from the semen found on her underclothes has proved that House was not a rapist; rather, it came from her husband. The victim's blood, it has since been shown, was not spattered on House's jeans during the homicide, but later in the crime lab.

Furthermore, two witnesses say the victim's husband, Hubert ''Little Hube'' Muncey, confessed to killing his wife accidentally after he had been out at the local community center, drinking and dancing. That testimony was never heard by the jury.
A three-judge panel in March upheld the death sentence. House asked for the full court to review that decision, and in yesterday's opinion the 11-member court referred the case to the Tennessee Supreme Court by a 6-5 decision.

And just last week, The Innocence Project reported that the hair found in Muncey's hand doesn't even belong to House nor the husband.

And yet, Paul House will still stand trial October 13. Despite this evidence, and the evidence from 2002, prosecutors refuse to say they are wrong.

It seems this is always the case -- save face, instead of having grace. Fortunately, we have teams of good people, who use logic, science, and seek the truth to help people like Paul Gregory House...where no one else will.

1 comment:

  1. WOW. It boggles my mind how pervasive the guilty-until-proven-innocent mindset it. I'm also guilty of making judgments based on what i hear from the media, but more and more the media makes me angry. I watched a documentary a few months ago called George Orwell Rolls in his Grave, that i bet you would like. They point out how we used to have all these independent news stations, and now they've bought each other up and there are only a few big companies now. They tell us what they want us to know. If the government ever gets a controlling interest in them (and who is to say they don't already have it?) then it really is Big Brother telling us what he thinks we should know. And as you say, everyone will just spout the same bullshit they are told by the media. It's kinda scary, actually.

    I put that Bloodsworth book on my list at the library. Sounds like it will be interesting, and will make me mad. I like a book that gets me fired up.

    Great post!