Pervis Payne family hopes DNA will provide truth in murder mystery

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Pervis Payne, a death row inmate who is set for execution in December, is heading back to a Shelby County courtroom in hopes it will lead to his freedom.

A jury convicted Payne for the murders of 28-year-old Charisse Christopher and her 2-year-old daughter, Lacie, in their Millington apartment in 1987. Christopher’s 3-year-old son, Nicholas, was critically injured but survived the brutal stabbings.

Payne continued to maintain his innocence. Now his family is speaking out, saying they just want his story to be heard. Rolanda Holman, Payne’s sister, said they have been waiting 33 years for the truth.

“We have been just waiting for some type of breakthrough for his story to be heard and for the truth to finally be revealed,” Holman said.

Three decades later, Payne’s court appearance will be centered around DNA evidence. Technology like testing DNA was just becoming a trend, during the time he was convicted. His sister said Payne has been on death row for more than 30 years and hopes her brother’s truth is heard. She said it was not heard some years ago.

“My brother told his truth,” Holman said. “And his truth was manipulated, twisted, and turned to be pinned against him during his case. It was only circumstantial evidence, so he didn’t have a motive. He didn’t know the victims.”

Pervis wants DNA testing of evidence in the case. Recently, District Attorney Amy Weirich said bloody bedding his defense lawyers claim was new evidence wasn’t actually new at all. It was from another case and was a mix-up by the property room attendant.

That does not sit well with Holman. She said she does not understand how someone can present evidence that is not from case.

“That’s a problem within itself when you are able to give the wrong evidence to someone for their case. That should be a major violation of protocol,” Holman said.

Payne’s lawyers plan to ask a Memphis judge for testing on other evidence. They say no doubt comes from his case.

On the other hand, the mother of Charisse Christopher is convinced that Payne is guilty and said it is time for him to pay for what he did some three decades ago.

“It’s been 33 years, and I think that’s been long enough,” her mother said.

Payne’s family contends the prosecution manipulated both families, and they are fighting for the victims as well. They say everyone deserves to know the truth.

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