Pervis Payne an innocent man's execution reprieve is ending tomorrow. ACT NOW!

Pervis Payne an innocent man's execution reprieve is ending tomorrow. ACT NOW!

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eden zilkha started this petition to Bill Lee (Governor)

1.   Pervis Payne has always maintained his innocence. For 33 years, Mr. Payne has consistently said he did not commit this crime and that he was an innocent bystander who happened upon the crime scene and tried to help.

2.  Key evidence from the case that could identify the actual perpetrator of the crime — including the victim’s fingernail clippings — have gone missing. For decades, the evidence in this case went untested. Last year, the Shelby County Criminal Court ordered testing and on Jan. 19, 2021, Mr. Payne’s lawyer’s submitted the results of the testing to the court, which included male DNA from an unknown third party, but it was too degraded to identify an alternate suspect using the FBI’s database. However, the State is unable to account for the crucial pieces of evidence that have mysteriously gone missing. The victim’s fingernail clippings, which have now disappeared, were particularly crucial as the prosecution argued at trial that the victim had scratched her attacker.

3.  Mr. Payne had no motive to commit such a crime. Mr. Payne, who lives with an intellectual disability, is described by those who know him as kind and respectful. He loved to make his sisters and mother laugh and helped his father out at his church in any way he could. In the absence of a clear motive, the prosecution argued that Payne had taken drugs, looked at a Playboy magazine, and was looking for sex when he approached the victim. They argued that he attacked her after she rejected him. But there is no evidence that Payne had used drugs that day and he did not have a history of drug use, nor a criminal record.

4.  The prosecution employed racial stereotypes to portray Mr. Payne, a Black man, as a hypersexual and violent drug user, who attacked a white woman. Shelby County, where Mr. Payne’s trial took place, is among the 25 counties with the most recorded lynchings between 1877 and 1950 in the United States. The county’s history is deeply rooted in slavery and deals with its legacy to this day. Knowing this, the prosecution repeatedly highlighted the victim’s “white skin” when referring to parts of her body during the trial, while painting a portrait of Mr. Payne as a drug-using, aggressive, hypersexual Black man.

Similar stereotypes have historically been used to falsely accuse or wrongfully convict Black men, like Emmett Till and the “Scottsboro Boys” of raping white women.

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