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This photo provided by attorney Kelley Henry shows Pervis Payne. A district attorney in Tennessee said Thursday, July 30, 2020 that she is fighting a request by the inmate facing execution in December to have a judge order DNA testing of evidence in his case. Shelby County district attorney Amy Weirich said a bag of evidence reviewed by Payne's lawyers in an evidence property room last year came from a different case that has nothing to do with the 1987 stabbings of a woman and her daughter for which Payne was convicted and sentenced to death. (Kelley Henry via AP)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A group of Black community leaders in Memphis are calling on a district attorney to support DNA testing for a Tennessee inmate scheduled to be executed in December.

Groups including the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators, 100 Black Men of Memphis and the Memphis chapter of the NAACP said Monday that DNA tests on evidence in the case of Pervis Payne could exonerate him in the killing of a woman and her son 33 years ago.

Shelby County district attorney Amy Weirich is fighting the request for DNA testing from Payne's lawyers. In a statement Monday, Weirich said Payne killed two innocent people and there is "overwhelming evidence proving his guilt." A hearing is set for Tuesday.

Payne, 53, has always maintained his innocence in the 1987 stabbing deaths of Charisse Christopher and her 2-year-old daughter, Lacie Jo. Christopher's son, Nicholas, who was 3 at the time, was stabbed but survived.

At the time of Payne's trial, DNA testing of evidence was unavailable, and no testing has ever been done in his case.

 

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