Judge says former death row inmate Pervis Payne could be eligible for parole, DA appeals

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Former death row inmate Pervis Payne could be eligible for parole in 5 years following a resentencing hearing Monday.

But, the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office has appealed the judge’s ruling.

Judge Paula Skahan said the state failed to provide evidence of Payne being a violent offender.

Following the ruling that Payne could be granted parole in 5 years, Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich asked the State Attorney General’s Office to appeal the ruling.

“We respectfully disagree with Judge Skahan’s interpretation of the new statute that removed the one-year statute of limitations on claims of intellectual disability. The state does not authorize changing the original trial judge’s ruling that multiple sentences in the case could be consecutive,” Weirich said in a press release.

Payne, 53, has maintained his innocence in the murders of Charisse Christopher, 28, and her two-year-old daughter, Lacie Jo, who were found stabbed to death inside their home in Millington.

Charisse Christopher had more than 80 knife wounds, according to investigators. Three-year-old Nicholas Christopher also suffered numerous stab wounds.

He survived after undergoing multiple surgeries.

MORE: Pervis Payne’s death penalty sentence removed, DA says

Payne’s DNA was found on multiple items at the crime scene, including a paper towel bundle and a washcloth. An officer also saw Payne run down the stairs at the apartment as he arrived at the scene.

Judge Skahan said that Payne could get credit for time served for an assault charge.

He won’t receive any good behavior credit from his murder charge due to the fact he was on death row, the judge said.

In 1988, a Criminal Court jury convicted Payne on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of assault to commit first-degree murder.

The jury sentenced Payne to death for each murder. He also received 30 years in prison for the assault.

Payne’s attorney Kelley Henry said Payne poses no threat to society.

Henry released the following statement after the resentencing hearing:

“The Judge considered this matter thoughtfully and deliberately and did the right thing by making the sentences concurrent. She followed Tennessee law, which favors concurrent sentences and places the burden on the State to prove that consecutive sentencing is necessary to protect the public. The Shelby County D.A. was effectively asking for a sentence of life without parole – which is not authorized under the law. The plain fact is, Pervis Payne is no threat to society and he never was.”