Supporters hold rally for Pervis Payne

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Dozens of supporters held a rally for Pervis Payne on his behalf, on Saturday.

His supporters stood with the ‘I am a Man’ plaza as the backdrop, with many of them wearing his name on their shirts.  Some offered Payne words of encouragement, to keep fighting, as they are on his behalf.

 It is a battle Payne and the dozens of supporters gathered at the plaza said has been ongoing for 33 years. In 1987, Payne was arrested and later convicted of stabbing to death 28-year-old Charisse Christopher and her 2-year old daughter Lacie Jo inside a Millington apartment.     

Charisse’s 3-year old son, was also stabbed survived. Payne’s sentence, means he will pay for the crime with his life. 

But his lawyer, Kelley Henry, said he is paying dearly for something she feels he did not do.

“I have been representing man on death row, for 30 years,” Henry said. “And I am here to tell you, this man is innocent.”

Kelley Henry said testing DNA from the scene can prove it. In September, a judge granted Payne’s motion requesting DNA analysis. But it could take some time.

Nevertheless, time is running out because Payne’s execution date is set for Dec 3rd. The people gathered in support of Payne: men and women, black and white, children and adults, with a rallying cry for Tennessee’s governor to step in.

“Governor Lee has some options, he can reprieve the case so we can get that statue passed,” Henry said. “Or he can just commute his sentence right here right now.”

District Attorney Amy Weirich Has said there was overwhelming evidence proving his guilt. But those supporting Payne said the opposite is true, in that there is overwhelming evidence pointing towards his innocence.

On Saturday, his supporters said they are hoping to drum up support, that could literally be the difference between life or death. They marched from the plaza to 201 Poplar, though Payne is not locked up there, instead he is incarcerated in Nashville.     

Nevertheless his supporters said this is their way, to take a stand against, what they call a flawed legal system.

Saturday’s gathering also commemorates the 25th Anniversary of the Million Man march in Washington D.C.

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