Attorneys for Pervis Payne seek chance to present intellectual disability claim in court

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Attorneys for Pervis Payne seek chance to present intellectual disability claim in court

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Inmate Pervis Payne’s attorneys have filed a petition asking for the opportunity to bring their client’s intellectual disability claim to court.

Filing comes several weeks after Tennessee lawmakers passed laws designed to prevent people with intellectual disabilities from being executed. Proponents of the bill pointed to Payne, who was sentenced to death in 1987 in the fatal knife wounds of Charisse Christopher and her 2-year-old daughter.

In 2002 the US Supreme Court ruled that the execution of a person with an intellectual disability was unconstitutional. However, the Tennessee Supreme Court later ruled that as of now there has been no process for death row inmates to reopen their cases to investigate intellectual disability claims.

“Pervis Payne is undeniably mentally disabled,” the new petition reads. “Mr. Payne meets all three Atkins requirements as well as those of the Tennessee Statute. He has significantly below average intellectual functioning, significant deficits in adaptation in every area, and his disability manifested before the age of 18.”

According to the attorneys, Shelby County attorneys and the Tennessee Supreme Court have recognized Payne’s intellectual disability in the courts and stated that they have “no interest” in executing someone with such a disability.

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