Gov. Lee grants temporary reprieve for death row inmate Pervis Payne

Pervis Payne
Posted at 4:09 PM, Nov 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-06 17:09:15-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Governor Bill Lee a temporary reprieve from execution for Pervis Payne, rescheduling his Dec. 3 execution for April 9, 2021.

The governor released the following statement Friday:

“I am granting Pervis Payne a temporary reprieve from execution until April 9, 2021, due to the challenges and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Payne's lawyers asked the governor to at least postpone the execution until lawmakers can fix a loophole that prevents him from presenting evidence of intellectual disability in court. Payne also asked a federal judge to postpone the execution, arguing he is intellectually disabled.

Payne was convicted of the 1987 murders of Charisse Christopher, of Millington, and her 2-year-old daughter, Lacie. Payne, who is Black, told police he was trying to help the victims but panicked when he saw a white policeman and ran away.

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

The Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators recently wrote a letter to the governor asking him to commute Payne's life sentence.