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Watch Live: Jessica Chambers Murder Trial Day 6


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Court is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Sunday in the capital murder retrial of Quinton Verdell Tellis. Prosecutors say he’s the man who fatally set 19-year-old Jessica Chambers on fire on December 6, 2014. Closing arguments could take place today.

The state rested their case Saturday. They spent their final hours attempting to undermine Tellis’ alibi and highlight his inconsistent answers to investigators.

According to authorities, Tellis previously said that he last saw Jessica the morning she died. During a 2015 interview, however, investigators confronted him with cell phone tower evidence that he was in the same area as Chambers that evening, and he changed his answer to say he saw her at a Taco Bell.

He had said that he was with Michael “Big Mike” Sanford that day and borrowed his truck. The thing is, prosecutors called Big Mike to the stand Saturday, and he contradicted that story.

Sanford testified that he saw Jessica that morning and left for Nashville that day to see a Tennessee Titans game. He said he did not let Tellis borrow his truck.

The defense spent much of their cross-examination highlighting a key detail: that first responders reported that Chambers said an “Eric” did this to her. They are also attempting to show that authorities weren’t thorough enough in their probe, and that Tellis was fully cooperative in this interviews with them.

Department of Justice intelligence analyst Paul Rowlett testified about the scope of the investigation. He said they found an “Eric” and “Erik” among Chambers’ Facebook friends, but they didn’t find evidence of communication between her and them.

The search for Erics as well as Dereks covered people outside of Panola County, not just people Chambers would have known, he said.

Rowlett testified that tips petered out by October 2015.  There was a gap in the investigation team’s knowledge of Chambers’ whereabouts between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

On Sunday, expect the defense to argue for a motion of acquittal.

If that fails, they may call three witnesses: Tellis’ mother and sister, as well as a firefighter.

The defense called no witnesses in Tellis’ first trial, which ended after the jury was deadlocked. Jurors first said they couldn’t reach a decision, then returned to deliberate before steppinng back out with a “not guilty” verdict. That turned out not to be the case after the judge took a poll, and some said they voted guilty. Confusion reigned. Judge Gerald Chatham sent them back to deliberate further, but they just couldn’t reach a unanimous decision one way or another.

Now, almost a full year later, there is another set of 12 people to hear this retrial, with another set of closing arguments coming up shortly. Will either side be able to convey to jurors a clear sense of what happened on December 6, 2014?

Stay with the Law&Crime Network for continuing coverage of the trial.

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