Pervis Payne eligible for parole in 5 years after judge sets concurrent life sentences

Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 4:43 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Pervis Payne has a chance to get out of prison after first being sentenced to death in 1988.

A ruling from a Shelby County judge makes it possible for Payne to be eligible for parole in five years.

Monday, Shelby County Judge Paula Skahan said the state failed to establish Payne as a dangerous offender and ultimately ruled Payne’s two life sentences will run at the same time.

“Today is a great day, a great day for the Payne family and for Pervis Payne,” said Payne’s attorney, Kelley Henry.

There was a spur of joy after Skahan ruled Payne’s two sentences for first-degree murder shall be served concurrently.

“Accordingly, the defendant’s effective sentence shall be two concurrent life terms, plus 30 years to be served at Tennessee Department of Corrections, release eligibility after service of 39 years with the defendant receiving sentencing credits for all time served since his arrest,” Skahan said during the hearing.

Payne has been in prison for over three decades after being convicted and sentenced to death in 1987 for the killing of 28-year-old Charisse Christopher and her 2-year-old daughter, Lacie in Millington.

Henry said with Payne having already served 34 and a half years, he will be eligible for parole in a few years.

“What the judge’s order means is that in five years, Pervis will be eligible to go for the parole board to be considered to go home, and we believe that he will come home,” said Henry.

Payne’s family is grateful to be one step closer to him being free.

“After 34 years and fighting to see this day as such, it’s just overwhelming,” said Payne’s sister, Rolanda Holman.

Henry added Payne has an impeccable record in prison and was never a danger to society. As for what’s next, she says the case is not over.

“We continue our investigation,” said Henry. “We continue to work to exonerate Pervis to find out who actually committed these murders. We believe it was Kenneth Christopher, at least that he was behind it and we’re continuing to work to bring justice and closure to this case.”

Henry said after they’ve fully completed their investigation, they will make a motion to the governor to renew their clemency petition.

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