Today, Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich opposed Pervis Payne’s petition for DNA testing. Mr. Payne, a Black man who lives with intellectual disability, had no prior criminal history, and has maintained his innocence for more than 30 years, is scheduled for execution on December 3, 2020.
In response, Kelley Henry, a member of Mr. Payne’s defense team, made the following statement:
“The District Attorney is wrong to oppose DNA testing in Pervis Payne’s case. She is wrong on both the facts and the law. On the facts, the DA’s assertion that the wrong bag of evidence was handed to Mr. Payne’s attorneys in December 2019 raises more questions than answers. Even putting the bedding aside, there is abundant evidence from the crime scene that could definitively prove that Mr. Payne is innocent. There is a long line of bungling in this case, leading to Mr. Payne’s wrongful conviction. The police tampered with evidence at the crime scene. They moved the victims’ bodies. If the victim’s ex-husband’s DNA is found on any piece of evidence, it would exonerate Mr. Payne. On the law, the DA is relying on a case that was overruled by the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2006. There is no legal barrier to testing in Mr. Payne’s case. The DA should not be citing out of date, overruled cases. It’s now more important than ever that this case get a full hearing before a judge.”
—Kelley Henry, Supervisory Assistant Federal Public Defender
July 30, 2020