MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP/WMC) - A judge has ruled that evidence must be tested for DNA in the case of a Tennessee death row inmate facing execution in December for the stabbing deaths of a woman and her daughter 33 years ago.
Shelby County Judge Paula Skahan ruled Wednesday in favor of attorneys for Pervis Payne, who filed a petition in July requesting DNA testing in the long-running case.
The judge ruled the evidence should be sent to a laboratory in California hired by defense attorneys to perform expedited testing at no cost to the state.
Payne’s attorneys hope he could be exonerated.
The Innocence Project joined Payne’s legal team after his attorneys found untested evidence, including bloodstained bedding, last December.
Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich said the evidence actually isn’t connected to his case at all but was mistakenly shown to his attorneys during a visit to the criminal court clerk’s property room.
Following the judge’s decision, Weirich released a statement saying her office would not appeal the order.
“We will await the results of the testing that defense assures can be done quickly,” reads the statement. “We do however have concerns that touch DNA has been deposited on the items over the last 33 years since the murders happened.”
Payne is scheduled for execution Dec. 3. He was convicted of the 1987 stabbing deaths of Charisse Christopher and her 2-year-old daughter, Lacie, in Millington. Christopher’s son, Nicholas, survived the attack.
Payne’s attorney’s say he discovered the crime scene.