Pervis Payne resentenced due to intellectual disability

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Pervis Payne, who has been on Tennessee’s death row for 34 years, and has always maintained his innocence, will be resentenced to life in prison because of his intellectual disability.

A county criminal court judge vacated Payne’s sentence late last month after the Shelby County district attorney withdrew her request for a hearing on the issue of intellectual disability. She acted after a state expert testified that an examination of Payne didn’t indicate his intellectual function was “outside the range for intellectual disability.”

“We look forward to Mr. Payne’s resentencing hearing. This is some measure of justice for Mr. Payne and his family, but our fight for full exoneration of this innocent man will continue,” Payne’s attorney, Kelley Henry, said in a statement issued after the judge’s ruling.

“The Shelby County District Attorney was right to drop its request for a hearing on Mr. Payne’s intellectual disability. The D.A.’s concession will avoid years of needless litigation,” Henry stated.

“That means the sentence will be converted to two consecutive life sentences,” County District Attorney Amy Weirich said. However, Henry maintains that the court has the discretion to rule that his sentences run concurrently, which she will request.

Payne, now 54, was sentenced to death in 1988 for the murder of 28-year-old Charisse Christopher and her two-year-old daughter, Lacie. He has always maintained his innocence.

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