NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A former death row inmate was freed from a Nashville prison on Wednesday for the first time in nearly 23 years after an anonymous donor paid his bail.
Paul House, 46, is set to be retried in October in the 1985 slaying of Carolyn Muncey. Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded he would not have been convicted based on DNA evidence that emerged years after his trial.
House, who has multiple sclerosis and must use a wheelchair, left the prison in the backseat of a white sport utility vehicle accompanied by his mother.
"I feel pretty good," said House, wearing a white shirt short-sleeve shirt and blue sweat pants his mother had brought him. "All I am looking forward to is going home and eating some chili verde and pizza."
Joyce House said she remained optimistic about her son's second trial, and hopes justice will be served the second time around.
"I never gave up hope this day would come," she said.
House's bond was initially set at $500,000 — a price House's mother said she could not afford — but was lowered to $100,000 by a Union County judge last week.
An anonymous donor stepped forward to pay it instead. House's mother said she doesn't know who the donor is but plans to send that person a thank-you note through the Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State Killing, which contacted her about the donor.
Stacy Rector, executive director of the advocacy group, said the anonymous donor provided the money on Tuesday and contacted the group, which helped with the process.
Under the conditions of his release, House can't leave his mother's home and must be monitored 24 hours a day.
He also must register as a sex offender for his previous aggravated sexual assault conviction in Utah. Department of Correction spokeswoman Dorinda Carter said prison officials have already completed paperwork to have House registered as a sex offender.
House has been incarcerated since July 17, 1985, but maintains he did not kill Muncey. Prosecutors are no longer seeking the death penalty.