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Death sentence removed over Tennessee inmate's mental disability claim

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innocenceproject.org
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Tennessee inmate Pervis Payne

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A prosecutor says a Tennessee inmate will no longer face execution over the slayings of a mother and daughter more than 30 years ago because of claims that he is intellectually disabled.

Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich announced that Pervis Payne will instead face two consecutive life sentences in prison.

Weirich said her office received information last week that the state's expert “could not say that Payne’s intellectual functioning is outside the range for intellectual disability.”

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2002 found executions of the intellectually disabled violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill this summer making Tennessee’s law retroactive in prohibiting the execution of the intellectually disabled.