In December 2014, Chambers was discovered beside her burning auto on a rural Panola County road with severe burns to 98 percent to her body.
Champion said Tellis first told investigators he only saw Chambers on the morning of her death.
“Horrific burns”, Champion said.
“Miss Chambers did not say Quinton set her on fire”.
Opening statements are scheduled for Tuesday in the trial of 28-year-old Quinton Verdell Tellis.
Multiple firefighters who tried to help the teen said Chambers told them someone named “Eric” or “Derek” burned her.
The jurors were told that during the trial, they will be shown very gruesome photos of Jessica Chambers’ burned body.
Authorities have said Chambers was on fire when she was found in Courtland, Mississippi, on December 6, 2014. Prosecutor John Champion said last week that they do not plan on pursuing the death penalty. Police claim Tellis admitted to being with Chambers on the day she was burned, but he didn’t admit to killing her. Investigators said he had some sort of relationship with Chambers shortly before the murder, and were able to link him to the killing by using phone records. Champion said he believes Tellis suffocated Chambers and thought he had killed her. He did not know Chambers of Tellis prior to finding her vehicle that night.
Darla Palmer, defense attorney, told the jury that Champion’s information is inconsistent and that the cell phone data in Courtland is unreliable. Numerous first responders completed reports and what they put in their reports, you’ll see it’s in quotes: “‘Eric set me on fire.’ She didn’t mention any other name”.
“She said ‘Eric set me on fire, ‘” Palmer said. “She knew his name is Quentin Tellis”. She just did not say that. The prosecutor also said Tellis’ alibi was fabricated.
“He insisted this is not something he would do”, Palmer said. Authorities have said about 20,000 telephone numbers were analyzed as part of the investigation. Chambers’ mother Lisa Daugherty is also on the witness list.
Quinton Tellis faces life in prison if convicted in the 19-year-old’s death almost three years ago in Courtland, Mississippi, but has maintained his innocence in the case.
Tellis faces another murder indictment in Louisiana, where he’s accused in the torture death of Meing-Chen Hsiao, a 34-year-old Taiwanese graduate student at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
An indictment alleges that Tellis probably stabbed Hsiao more than 30 times in her face and body with a knife to get her to reveal her debit card’s PIN number before killing her July 29, 2015. He was released from prison just two months before Chambers’ death. His family was gathered in the courtroom.
Relatives have described Chambers as friendly and outgoing.
The horrific circumstances surrounding the former high school cheerleader’s death garnered national attention. Champion said she could have been saying “Tellis”, but the damage done to her throat made it sound different.