Pervis Payne, Tennessee

 

Updated: Monday, November 23, 2020

Pervis Tyrone Payne was scheduled to be executed shortly after 7:00 pm local time on Thursday, December 3, 2020, at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institute near Nashville, Tennessee.  He has been granted a temporary reprieve. Fifty-three-year-old Pervis is convicted of murdering 28-year-old Charisse Christopher and her two-year-old daughter, Lacie Jo, on June 27, 1987, in Millington, Tennessee. Pervis has spent the last 32 years of his life on Tennessee’s death row.

Pervis did not have a history of drug and/or alcohol use. He also did not have a criminal history. Pervis’ parents and girlfriend both testified that he was good with children. Pervis had previously worked with his father as a painter.

Charisse Christopher lived with her two-year-old daughter Lacie and 3-year-old son Nicholas in an apartment in Millington, Tennessee. The family lived across the hall from Bobbie Thomas, who was dating Pervis Payne, whom she had met at church.

Bobbie was out of town and expected to return on June 27, 1987, and Payne stopped by several times throughout the day, once leaving his bag of clothing and some malt liquor, in the hallway outside the apartment. While waiting for Bobbie to return, Payne spent the morning and early afternoon injecting cocaine and drinking beer.

 

Around 3 pm, Payne returned to the apartment complex and entered Charisse’s apartment. When Charisse resisted his sexual advances, Payne became violent. The person living below Charisse heard her screaming “get out, get out” repeatedly. Charisse went briefly quiet before letting out a “blood curdling scream,” prompting the downstairs neighbor to call the police.

 

When the police arrived, Payne was observed leaving the apartment, covered in so much blood, that the officer noted that he appeared to be “sweating blood.” When the police officer began questioning Payne, Payne struck the officer with his overnight bag, dropped his tennis shoes and fled the scene.

 

When police entered the apartment, they discovered blood covering the walls and floor. Charisse and her two children had been stabbed repeatedly. Nicholas had been stabbed completely through his body with a butcher knife, but was still alive. He was transported to a hospital and was able to survive his extensive injuries.

 

Charisse and Lacie died from their injuries. Charisse had been stabbed over 40 times. None of her individual wounds were fatal, but together, they caused her to bleed out. Lacie had also received numerous stab wounds. Payne's baseball cap was snapped onto her arm, near her elbow. Three cans of malt liquor, with Payne’s fingerprints on them, were found on a table near her body.

 

Police arrested Payne later that day. Payne had been hiding in the attic of the home of a former girlfriend. As Payne was being arrested, he told the officer, “Man, I ain't killed no woman.” Payne was still covered in blood, and was foaming at the mouth when he was arrested. In his pockets, Payne had a packet that contained cocaine residue, a syringe wrapper, and a cap from a syringe. His overnight bag was found nearby, along with a bloody white shirt.

 

Payne has continued to insist upon his innocence, testifying during his trial that he observed a man racing past him has he walked up the stairs. Upon reaching the landing, Payne alleged he heard a baby crying and a faint call for help. He saw a door ajar and announced himself before entering the apartment. Payne testified that Charisse had the knife in her throat and pulled it out while Payne was there, resulting in the blood on him. Payne alleged that he panicked and fled the scene after hearing the police sirens.

 

Some DNA testing has been performed on evidence collected in the case, including on the bloody white t-shirt that was found near where Payne was hiding. The blood on the shirt was identified as belonging to the victims. Some items collected were never tested and Payne has since petitioned for them to be tested. Earlier this year, Payne’s requested was granted and additional DNA testing is scheduled to take place in mid-November.

 

Payne was convicted of the murder of Charisse and Lacie and received a death sentence for each murder.

 

Governor Bill Lee has granted a temporary reprieve to Payne. In his statement, Governor Lee said, “I am granting Pervis Payne a temporary reprieve from execution until April 9, 2021, due to the challenges and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”  Unrelated to the temporary reprieve, Pervis has also recently tested positive, along with several others on death row in Tennessee, for COVID-19. 

 

Pray for peace and healing for the family of Charisse and Lacie Jo Christopher. Pray for peace and healing for Nicholas Christopher. Pray for strength for the family of Pervis Payne. Pray that if Pervis is innocent, lacks the competency to be execution, or should not be executed for any other reason that evidence will be provided prior to his execution. Pray that Pervis may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.

 

 

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