October 12, 2017
Quinton Tellis, Jessica Chambers.
It’s an easy mistake for anyone to make.
The man accused of killing 19-year-old Jessica Chambers burned her alive in her car after he mistakenly thought he had suffocated her, the prosecution alleged in its opening statement Tuesday.
Quinton Tellis, 29, could face life in prison without parole if convicted of capital murder in the death of Chambers, who was found near the remains of her car along a rural Mississippi back road on Dec. 6, 2014.
The horrific circumstances surrounding the former high school cheerleader’s death garnered national attention. The trial in Batesville, Miss., about 50 miles south of Memphis, is the focus of tight security. The jury is being sequestered and spectators are being screened by metal detectors before entering the courtroom.
Prosecutor John Champion warned jurors that they will see graphic photos of a burned Chambers and they will hear from about 35 witnesses. Chambers had burns on about 93 percent of her body when she was found.
Champion said cellphone records show that Chambers and Tellis — who had met about two weeks before her death and had become friends — were together twice on the day she was burned.
Citing statements Tellis made to investigators, Champion said Tellis and Chambers had sex in her car later that evening. Champion said he believes Tellis suffocated Chambers and thought he had killed her.
Tellis then drove Chambers’ car with her inside it to the back road, ran to his sister’s house nearby, jumped in his sisters’ car, stopped to pick up gasoline from a shed at his house and torched Chambers’ car and her, Champion said.
It’s unfortunate that Jessica had become so relaxed around these apes.