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The capital murder trial of 28-year-old Quinton Verdell Tellis continues on Sunday. Prosecutors say he’s responsible for the horrific death of 19-year-old Jessica Chambers. Court is expected to start at approximately 2pm ET/1pm CT in Batesville, Mississippi.
A grand jury indicted Tellis for lighting Chambers’ car on fire, leading to her death. Authorities said they discovered her covered in burns on almost her entire body, on December 6, 2014. The charge is capital murder because the victim passed away allegedly because of the commission of third-degree arson. District 17 District Attorney John Champion has said prosecutors won’t pursue the death penalty, so if Tellis is found guilty, he will be guaranteed to be spend the rest of his life in prison. Charged as a habitual offender for three prior convictions, he would not have a chance at parole.
Champion said during his opening statement that phone records place Tellis at the crime. The defendant had known the victim for two weeks, he said, and testimony would show that they hung out with a mutual friend on the morning of December 6, 2014. Defense lawyer Darla Palmer said there is too much doubt to convict Tellis. Records place him five miles away from the arson, she said. Whatever records prosecutors had putting him at the crime could still not give a precise whereabouts on his location. Also, Chambers told first responders at the scene that a man named Eric did this her to. Champion tried to undermine this last detail during his opening statement, saying that the victim’s esophagus was so injured that it distorted her speech.
Testimony continued on Saturday. Tommy Douglas, an investigator with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, returned to the stand. The defense pressed him on other possible suspects, and demanded he explain why there was no secondary crime scene.
Jurors once again saw interrogation footage.
— Ian Ripple (@Ripple1026) October 14, 2017
Click here to review the state’s timeline of this crime.
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