UPDATE: Judge declares mistrial in Jessica Chambers case.
BATESVILLE, MS — The last thing the jury heard before entering into deliberations Sunday was a possible timeline for the night Jessica Chambers was murdered. The jury has now deliberated for approximately six hours, and continues that process Monday morning.
While prosecutors argued defendant Quinton Tellis, a 29-year-old facing murder charges in Louisiana as well as Mississippi, should be found guilty in part because of the events of her last day of life, defense attorneys said investigators failed to make the pieces of the puzzle fit, leaving out key details from that last night. Quinton Tellis has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors used cell phone records, a gas station video camera, and witness testimony to lay out a timeline for Dec. 6, 2014, the day Chambers was killed. They say she woke up around 9 a.m. and texted Tellis, who said he had also just woken up. Chambers is seen on camera pulling into a nearby gas station and then pulling into Tellis’ driveway to pick him up.
Next, they rode around together with Chambers’ best friend, Kesha Myers. Chambers and Myers smoked marijuana together, and while the three rode around together, prosecutors emphasized they passed the area where Chambers was found severely burned multiple times during the day, showing Tellis knew this area. An hour later, Chambers drops Tellis off at his residence.
Chambers and Tellis continue to exchange text messages.
He writes, “I need you."
Chambers says, "What you need?"
Tellis responds, "Some lovin."
She says, "Oh Lord. Can't."
Prosecutors say this was the fourth time that week Tellis had asked to have sex with Chambers, and she’d turned him down each time.
According to testimony from Chambers’ mother, Lisa Daugherty, Chambers took a nap that afternoon, and her phone goes inactive. She is woken up by a call from Tellis, and at 5:30 p.m. Tellis calls her to have her pick him up, according to Tellis’ own 2016 testimony and phone records. They go get food, then return to Tellis’ house, where Tellis said they were smoking weed.
Though Tellis’ statements to police changed over the course of questioning, here, Tellis’ statements and prosecutors’ assertions differ. Prosecutors say Tellis lied about when and if he and Chambers had sex. State’s attorney John Champion said the state believes they never had sex at all, but rather that it was at this time Tellis may have tried to have sex with her, reclining the passenger seat, but instead, “Something happened inside that car to where he rendered her unconscious.”
At 7:10 p.m., cameras capture a car leaving Tellis’ driveway. Tellis said in previous interviews that car is a family member leaving. Prosecutors say it is Tellis and Chambers. At 7:50 p.m., a car pulls into Tellis’ driveway, parking near the shed where Tellis told police he kept a 5-gallon tank of gasoline. The car stays for just over a minute before pulling out of the driveway again.
Around 8:00 pm., reports of a car on fire start coming in. First responders head to the scene, where they discover Chambers covered in second and third degree burns nearly everywhere on her body. Multiple responders say they heard her say “Eric” when asked who did this to her. Chambers is taken to a nearby church, where she is then airlifted to a hospital in Memphis.
In the following hours, Tellis goes to the Piggly Wiggly, Fred’s, and the gas station, where he’s seen on camera. Later, Tellis texts Chambers saying he won’t be able to see her. He deleted all of his text messages to and from Chambers off of his phone, according to Tellis and phone records.