DNA testing was not available during the trial of the case against Pervis Payne and has not been performed since. The Court’s ruling ordering DNA testing of crime scene evidence could provide scientific proof of the real attacker’s identity and exonerate him.
According to his lawyers, Pervis Payne had no prior history before being convicted of a capital crime. He is intellectually disabled, which is partly the reason he was convicted. At the time of his trial, he failed to help his attorneys in making a defense him and he made a poor witness for himself because of his intellectual disability.
On September 14, Pervis Payne’s legal team filed a complaint to prevent the State of Tennessee from carrying out his execution on December 3.
Court’s decision ordering DNA testing is thoughtful and reasonable
Vanessa Potkin, Director of Director of Post-Conviction Litigation at The Innocence Project and a member of Pervis Payne’s legal team, commented on the Court’s ruling on Wednesday.
“The court’s thoughtful and reasoned decision to order DNA testing in Pervis Payne’s case is just and in line with Tennessee’s clear DNA testing law. When DNA evidence exists in a death penalty case, as it does here, it should always be tested to avoid the irreversible act of executing an innocent man. Mr. Payne never should have been put on death row because he has an intellectual disability. The U.S. Supreme Court has banned the execution of people with intellectual disability, making the State’s pursuit of Mr. Payne’s execution all the more appalling,” she said in a statement.