Opening statements are scheduled for Tuesday in the trial of 28-year-old Quinton Verdell Tellis. Prosecutors say he’s responsible for the horrific death of 19-year-old Jessica Chambers. The trial is expected to start at approximately 2pm ET/1pm CT in Batesville, Mississippi.
The charge is capital murder because the victim passed away during the alleged commission of third-degree arson. A grand jury indicted Tellis for lighting Chambers’ car on fire, leading to her death. Police said they discovered the victim, burns covering 98 percent of her body, on December 6, 2014. 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 knew Chambers before the murder, and were able to link him to the killing by using phone records. Prosecutor John Champion said last week that they do not plan on pursuing the death penalty.
The prosecution is preparing to call more than 40 possible witnesses in the case, according to court records. Among them are representatives from AT&T and Verizon, who may be asked to discuss those phone records. Chambers’ mother Lisa Daugherty is also on the witness list. She has said she spoke to her daughter on the evening of December 6, 2014, and will likely testify about that night.
This isn’t the only murder Tellis has been charged with. In a separate case, authorities in Louisiana claim he stabbed to death 34-year-old Meing-Chen Hsiao in 2015. As in the Chambers case, it is alleged he knew the victim before her death.
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