MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Pervis Payne’s death penalty sentence was officially vacated by a judge Tuesday morning.
District Attorney Amy Weirich’s office said the death sentence would be converted to life terms.
This comes after the district attorney’s office found he is intellectually disabled, therefore, taking him off death row.
Payne, who has been imprisoned on charges from a 1987 stabbing in Millington, Tennessee, cried and hugged his attorney in the courtroom. He has maintained his innocence in the case.
“Never again will Pervis Payne wake up in the morning wondering if his life will be extinguished by the state of Tennessee,” his attorney, Kelley Henry, said outside the courtroom.
The Supreme Court has ruled that inmates with an intellectual disability cannot be executed. Payne’s attorneys have claimed he was ineligible for the death penalty for this reason, and Weirich’s office last year agreed to drop opposition to an intellectual disability hearing.
Payne had been sentenced to death in the 1987 fatal stabbings of Charisse Christopher and her 2-year-old daughter in Millington, Tennessee.
Henry said they will continue their fight to exonerate him.
“Someone is going to come forward and tell us who really committed this offense and we will not rest until Pervis Payne’s name is clear,” Henry said.
Weirich said in a statement that her office met with the victim’s family last week, and while the family wasn’t happy with the decision, they understood.
Prosecutors said Payne’s death penalty will be replaced with two consecutive life sentences.
Payne’s resentencing is scheduled for Dec. 13. Payne’s attorney said they will ask the court to set his sentences to run concurrently, instead of consecutively, so that he could be eligible for parole in six years.