MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis death row inmate will be in court today fighting for his innocence.
This week, Pervis Payne is getting support from the national Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Payne’s father and sister said they’ve been fighting for his innocence for years and now they feel like they have support not just here but across the country.
“We have not given up. We have been consistent in believing and fighting for my brother’s innocence and that consistency has brought us to the movement and the action that you see today,” said Rolanda Holman, Payne’s sister.
A movement to free Payne who was convicted of the double murder of a Millington mother and her daughter.
The court has ordered a mental evaluation by the state’s medical expert into Payne’s intellectual disability.
New changes to Tennessee law ban the execution of people with intellectual disabilities.
“I don’t know whether we’ll prevail but I do know that we are going to fight and we are going to stand, we are going to stand for the truth,” said Kelley Henry, Payne’s attorney.
In court Friday, a judge will review a motion by the Shelby County assistant district attorney to access all records about Payne from the Department of Corrections.
The DA wants to interview correction officers about Payne too.
The motion states these documents are confidential and protected by a host of state and federal laws, which is why a judge needs to approve their release.
Payne’s attorneys filed their own motion which states that prison records should not be considered when evaluating the intellectual disability of an incarcerated person. Payne’s sister said they’re confident in his legal team and they’re grateful for the growing support for his case.
“It makes us know that we are not alone after being on this journey for such a long time what we’ve been wanting to get out is for people to see his innocence and get justice for him and we don’t feel like we’re fighting by ourselves, but we have an army of people who are finding for us,” said Holman.
In a previous statement, DA Amy Weirich said:
“While the law has barred the death penalty for the intellectually disabled since the early nineties, Payne’s lawyers chose not to raise the issue during the time period originally set by the legislature. The new law removes that deadline and allows the defense to file the claim which now will be decided in a court hearing. While the focus now will be on the defendant, I hope no one ever forgets the innocent victims in this case - Charisse Christopher and her two small children.”
Payne’s hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
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