Unknown male DNA discovered in death penalty case for Tenn. inmate Pervis Payne

Unknown male DNA discovered in death penalty case for Tenn. inmate Pervis Payne
Pervis Payne (Source: WMC Action News 5)

TENNESSEE (WMC) - During Tuesday’s court hearing, it was revealed that another man’s DNA was found on a knife handle at the scene. In regards to the knife, Attorney Kelley Henry told the judge, “There is male DNA on the handle that is unidentified.”

The prosecution attornery told the judge other evidence did not clear Payne. “It certainly does not exculpate Payne on guilt or punishment.”

#LIVE Tennessee inmate Pervis Payne in court as fight over death penalty continues. https://bit.ly/2NmYk6h

Posted by WMC Action News 5 on Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Payne was scheduled to die by lethal injection on December 3. Not only was his execution delayed by the Governor, but in September last year, a judge ruled that DNA evidence can be tested in Payne’s case.

Payne was convicted in the 1987 stabbing deaths in Millington of Charisse Christopher and her 2-year-old daughter, Lacie. Her 3-year-old son was also stabbed but survived. DNA testing did not exist at the time of Payne’s trial.

Court hearing for Tenn. death row inmate, Pervis Payne, to be held this morning

This will be the first time DNA from the crime scene will be tested. Payne’s public defender, Kelly Henry, said some of Payne’s DNA likely will be found at the crime scene because he said he cut his finger after pulling the knife from Lacie’s neck.

Shelby County DA opposing effort to test DNA evidence in 1987 double murder

Payne’s attorneys have also said he has an intellectual disability and claim executing him would be unconstitutional.

In December when Lee postponed Payne’s execution, he released a statement that said, “I am granting Pervis Payne a temporary reprieve from execution until April 9, 2021, due to the challenges and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The governor did not comment on the pending DNA testing or Payne’s disability.

Copyright 2021 WMC. All rights reserved.