Judge grants request for DNA testing in case of man convicted in Millington murder

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A criminal court judge on Wednesday granted a request for post-conviction DNA analysis to an inmate sentenced to death row in a decades-old Millington murder case.

Judge Paula Skahan decided that DNA testing was warranted in the case of Pervis Payne after reviewing his attorneys’ petition, a response from the state and law related to the Post Conviction DNA Analysis Act.

The Innocence Project, which has been working with the case, told the judge they can have DNA evidence tested in 45-60 days.

Payne was convicted in the 1987 stabbing death of 28-year-old Charisse Christopher and her 2-year-old daughter Lacie in a Millington apartment. Christopher’s son Nicholas, who was 3 years old at the time, survived.

Payne claims he did not hurt the victims. His attorneys have argued he has an intellectual disability, making him ineligible for the death penalty.

District Attorney Amy Weirich said her office would not appeal the order.

“We will await the results of the testing that defense assures can be done quickly,” Weirich said. “We do however have concerns that touch DNA has been deposited on the items over the last 33 years since the murders happened.”

Weirich said she does not believe new evidence presented recently should be tested, saying the evidence the defense is wanting to test wasn’t even from Payne’s case and was given to the defense by mistake.

Her office said the ruling does not apply to that “new evidence.”

Payne’s execution date is set for December 3.

After the judge’s decision, Rolanda Holman, Payne’s sister, said she spoke with her brother and is very hopeful.

“What I hope to learn from this DNA is that my brother was not there,” Holman said. “To be able to prove what he’s been saying for the past 33 years is that, ‘I came to help, I did not commit this crime.'”

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