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Deliberations have begun in the capital murder trial of 28-year-old Quinton Verdell Tellis. Prosecutors say he’s responsible for the horrific death of 19-year-old Jessica Chambers. The charge is capital murder because the victim passed away because of the commission of third-degree arson. District 17 District Attorney John Champion has said prosecutors won’t pursue the death penalty, but if Tellis is found guilty, he will be guaranteed to spend the rest of his life in prison. Tellis, who is charged as a habitual offender for three prior convictions, would not have a chance at parole.
Champion said during closing arguments on Sunday that Tellis definitely did it. Phone records and testimony show that he wanted a sexual relationship with the victim. The defendant lied to investigators, distancing himself from Jessica, the DA argued. Tellis also failed to provide alibi witnesses in trial, despite claiming he was with other people when Chambers’ car was burned.
“Jessica Chambers was full of tomorrows,” Champion said, and argued that Tellis was the man who took this away from her.
The defense team of Darla Palmer and Alton Peterson did not call any witnesses to the stand during the trial. They instead focused on simply puncturing the state’s case. They said that as shown in first responder reports, Chambers consistently blamed the arson on a man named “Eric.” Also, the attorneys argued that law enforcement weren’t thorough enough when investigating, and didn’t do enough to look at other possible suspects.
“Eric is not on trial today,” Palmer said. “But ladies and gentlemen, he should be.”
Champion explained away the “Eric” detail by arguing that Jessica mispronounced her words. She was so badly injured she had trouble saying Ts, he said.
Click here to review the state’s timeline of this crime.
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