Tenn. Black Caucus of State Legislators asks Gov. Lee to commute sentence of death row inmate

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Posted at 3:51 PM, Oct 13, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In a letter delivered to Governor Bill Lee last Friday, the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators (TBCSL) asks that he commute the life sentence of death row inmate, Pervis Payne. Payne was convicted of the 1987 murders of Charisse Christopher - of Millington - and her 2-year-old daughter, Lacie.

Specifically, TBCSL urges Lee to change Payne's death sentence to life in prison, due to his intellectual disability.

The letter points out Payne that Payne has presented evidence showing he has an IQ in the range of intellectually disabled, as well as significant neurocognitive impairments. It also mentions that Payne needed to be hand-fed until he was 5 years old; how he was unable to handle basic household tasks like laundry and how he has had trouble retaining information and following simple directions, even as an adult.

TBCSL says these facts have never been refuted.

In addition, TBCSL includes that a judge ruled last month that DNA evidence recovered from the scene, which had never been tested, can be tested.

"The District Attorney General office's opposition to DNA testing in this racially charged case during these troubled times raises serious concerns about the State of Tennessee's commitment to seek justice for all, and to guarantee judicial equity for our citizens of color in Memphis, in Shelby County and in Tennessee," the letter reads.

TBCSL members also met with Lang Wiseman, the deputy to the governor and chief counsel.

Payne's execution is scheduled for December.

Read the full letter here.