Oxygen is on location creating a docs-series at the trial of Jessica Chambers, the Mississippi teen who was doused with gasoline and set on fire in December of 2014.
COURTLAND, MS — Police officers brought the alleged murderer who killed teenager Jessica Chambers back to the spot where Chambers was found covered in head to toe burns as part of court proceedings.
Quinton Tellis, 29, was surrounded by his defense lawyers and police officers as he traveled to a string of locations prosecutors say are significant to the Dec. 6, 2014 murder, when the 19-year-old Mississippi girl was set on fire in her car. One locations was a visit to Chambers’ charred and severely burned car.
Jurors, the defendant, lawyers and a caravan of 30 cars from the Panola County courthouse drove through the winding roads of small-town Mississippi on Thursday. Prosecutors called Barry Thompson, lead investigator at the county sheriff's department, to testify on five locations important to the case.
These included the location where first responders came to Chambers' aid the night she was set on fire. Thompson described the position of her car, said her cell phone was found near the driver's side door, and showed jurors where firetrucks and brush trucks were located on the scene — a significant detail to prosecutors’ argument that there was too much noise at the scene for first responders to properly understand Chambers when she said “Eric set me on fire.”
Thompson said police investigated “more than 15” Erics and Derricks in the days after Chambers’ death, searching for the man first responders believed Chambers was trying to identify in the hours before her death. Instead, their team quickly located Tellis and interviewed him on Dec. 10, 2014, where he also voluntarily gave police a DNA sample for testing. Tellis additionally was brought to view Chambers’ car, which was significantly burned in the fire.
“There wasn’t a whole lot left to collect,” Thompson said. “They took evidence out of the car.”
Tellis’ face remained stoic and unemotional throughout the trip, and it appeared nothing was said between Tellis and his lawyers as they visited these scenes.
Other locations included a gas station, Tellis’ home, and the field behind his family home. There, Tellis told FBI Agent Dustin Blunt, he and Chambers had sex one time between meeting her two weeks earlier and the time she died.
“He was introduced to Jessica through a friend at a gas station in Courtland, Mississippi,” Blunt said in court Thursday. “They would ride around a lot together, numerous times. He went as far to say they at one time had a sexual relationship. He stated they were in the passenger seat, and he went into detail to say the passenger seat was reclined back and he was sitting in the passenger seat and Jessica Chambers was on top of him.”
Blunt also said Tellis told him he’d deleted any references to Chambers from his phone in the days after her death. Tellis and Chambers were smoking marijuana the day she was set on fire, Blunt said, and in previous days they had hung out at the gas station and in the field behind his house.
At the gas station, Thompson showed jurors two cameras outside of the gas station, one that appears to be pointing toward Tellis' home. More testimony regarding the surveillance video captured from the gas station is expected in the coming days.
[Photos: Emma Kerr]