Local pastors preach for death row inmate's innocence

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Posted at 8:19 AM, Sep 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-12 12:51:39-04

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WTVF) — One year ago, supporters began holding weekly rallies to free Pervis Payne, a man convicted of murdering two people in Memphis.

The growing movement to get Payne off death row will continue Sunday.

Several churches will host #PreachforPervisSunday, including Gifts of Life Ministries, with pastor Dr. Andre E. Johnson, Bluff City Church, with pastor Tom Fuerst, and St. Andrew AME Church with pastor Byron Moore.

Congregations will lift up Payne and his family in prayer, and some pastors will preach sermons about his innocence.

Payne is convicted of killing a woman and her 2-year-old daughter in Shelby County in 1987.

Shelby County prosecutors said there is substantial evidence to convict Payne and send him to death row, where he now sits. However, backers of Payne point to what they say was a "shoddy police investigation."

This past Wednesday, a group rallied downtown for his freedom, saying Payne is intellectually disabled and legally can't be put to death because of that.

A judge will soon look at a recently completed psychological evaluation. This comes on the heels of state lawmakers passed legislation in April preventing intellectually disabled inmates from being executed.