Tennessee death row inmate Pervis Payne claims intellectual disability

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee death row inmate is asking a federal judge to postpone his December execution, arguing that he is intellectually disabled.

In a court filing on Monday, attorneys for Pervis Payne argue that in Tennessee there is no procedure that will allow Payne to bring his claim of intellectual disability before the courts.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that executing an intellectually disabled person violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

Payne and his attorneys were in court several weeks ago asking a judge to order that evidence be tested for DNA. District Attorney Amy Weirich said she does not believe the evidence should be tested. She said the evidence the defense is wanting to test wasn’t even from Payne’s case and was given to the defense by mistake.

The judge has not made a ruling in that case.

In 1987, Pervis Payne was convicted of stabbing 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. Instead he says he tried to help them when he discovered they were hurt.

Payne’s sister, Rolanda Holman, said they are praying for a breakthrough, so his story can finally be heard.

The ruling on the evidence testing is scheduled for Wednesday at 9 a.m.

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