MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich said Thursday her office is dropping the request for a new hearing on the intellectual disability of death row inmate Pervis Payne.
That means the sentence will be converted to two consecutive life sentences, Weirich said.
Payne had been sentenced to death in the 1987 fatal stabbings of Charisse Christopher and her 2-year-old daughter in Millington, Tennessee.
But Payne’s attorneys argued that he was intellectually disabled, and therefore ineligible for the death penalty.
In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that executing a person with an intellectual disability is unconstitutional.
State Rep. GA Hardaway (D-Memphis), who helped sponsor legislation to allow claims like Payne’s to be presented in Tennessee courts, called the decision by Weirich a victory for the intellectually disabled and society as a whole.
Kelley Henry, Pervis Payne’s Attorney, made the following statement:
“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.
“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.”