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Pervis has been on death row in Tennessee for 33 years. Despite his strong innocence claims, intellectual disability, and evidence of racial stereotyping used at trial, he was set to be executed on December 3rd. Thankfully, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee granted him a temporary reprieve of execution until April 9, 2021 due to “challenges and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.” On January 19, 2021, the long awaited results of the DNA testing in Payne's case were submitted by the Innocence Project. The results are consistent with Payne's innocence claims, as male DNA from an unknown third party was found on the murder weapon and other key evidence. However, because the evidence was sitting, untested for decades, it is too degraded to identify another suspect from the FBI's database. Pervis Payne says that he was in his girlfriend's apartment when he heard cries coming from a neighboring apartment. He went over to help and found the awful crime scene in front of him. His DNA was found only on the items he said he touched while trying to help the victims. Additionally, Mr. Payne's personal history and upbringing shows no signs that he would be capable of committing this crime. He has no prior contact with the legal system, has maintained his innocence for over 30 years, there is missing key evidence in his case, and the trial failed to provide any substantial motive for committing this crime, his life should not be taken with so much uncertainty in his case. On top of everything else, Pervis has an intellectual disability. The Supreme Court recognizes that those living with intellectual disability are especially susceptible to wrongful conviction and ruled that death sentences are unconstitutional in these cases.


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