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Hearing held to formally remove Pervis Payne from the death penalty

The Shelby County District Attorney's Office announced last week they would no longer pursue the death penalty.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Pervis Payne will no longer be executed by the state and a hearing Tuesday morning made it official.

At the hearing, a judge formally granted Payne relief from the death sentence. It comes after the Shelby County District Attorney's Office announced last week they would drop the pursuit of the death penalty.

Payne was found guilty of the double murder of Charisse Christopher and her daughter Lacie in 1987. Despite being convicted, Payne has maintained his innocence.

Payne's case was under review due to claims of Payne living with an intellectual disability, according to his lawyers. 

The U.S. and Tennessee Supreme Courts have ruled it unconstitutional to execute an individual with an intellectual disability.

A state expert examined Payne and his records and could not say that his intellectual functioning was outside the range for intellectual disability, the DA's office reported.

Family and supporters of Payne gathered outside the courthouse after the hearing. They are still fighting for his release believing he is innocent of the crimes.

The DA's office said they met with the family of the victims to tell them about the news. According to them, family members were not happy with the news but were understanding.

The D.A. said Payne would serve two consecutive life sentences. The defense said Tuesday it would file a motion regarding the new sentencing. A hearing is set for December 13, 2021.