The Tennessee Criminal Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court ruling that Pervis Payne, who spent 34 years on Tennessee’s death row before being resentenced to life in prison last year, can serve his two life sentences concurrently, the Commercial Appeal reported. The ruling, issued late last month, means Payne will be eligible for parole in less than four years.
Payne, now 54, was sentenced to death in 1988 for the murder of 28-year-old Charisse Christopher and her two-year-old daughter, Lacie. He has always maintained his innocence.
Payne was finally able to appeal his sentence in 2021, after the Tennessee General Assembly passed a law allowing those on death row to appeal their sentences on the grounds of intellectual disability. A county criminal court judge then vacated Payne’s sentence after the Shelby County district attorney dropped her pursuit of the death penalty for Payne and withdrew her request for a hearing on the issue of intellectual disability. She acted after a state expert testified that an examination of Payne didn’t indicate his intellectual function was “outside the range for intellectual disability.”