The murder trial for a Mississippi teen who was burned alive in 2014 is set to begin this week. Jury selection will reportedly begin on Monday, October 9.
Jessica Chambers was just 19 years old was she brutally murdered. On December 6, 2014, the former cheerleader left her mom’s home to clean out her car while wearing pajama pants. She never returned home. She was found later that night stumbling in a nearby wooded area. Both she and her car were on fire. The teen had been doused with an accelerant before being set ablaze. Chambers suffered burns on more than 90% of her body, according to CNN, and she was still alive. She told first responders that someone did it to her and some responders even believe she said a man’s name. She was rushed by helicopter to a hospital where she died the next day. Her horrible death has haunted the tiny town of Courtland, which has a population of just 500.
Quinton Tellis, 29, is standing trial for her murder. He’s facing capital murder charge for her death. He was arrested last year, while he was being held in Louisiana in connection with another homicide. Ming-Chen Hsiao, a 34-year-old University of Louisiana-Monroe student from Taiwan, was murdered eight months after Chambers.
The student was stabbed to death over 30 times. Tellis pleaded guilty to the use of Hsiao’s debit card and was sentenced to a decade in prison.
Chambers’ friend Kesha Meyer told CNN that she, Tellis and Chambers hung out the day of Chambers’ murder. Tellis and Chambers went to highschool together, according to PEOPLE.
“We knew he was the last person she was with,” prosecutor John Champion alleged at the time. “We came to the realization that he was with her at 6 o’clock…. “We found out he was in Louisiana in jail down there and one thing led to another, and he kept lying to us, and every time we’d bust his lies, he’d change his story, and he basically put himself with Jessica until 7:26. We know she was on the scene until 7:31. So the chances of her being with somebody else for four minutes just doesn’t make sense.”
Police believe Tellis acted alone. He has pleaded not guilty to her murder. Before Tellis’ arrest 150 people in Courtland were interviewed by police, over a fifth of the town. Two hours before she was killed, Chambers was seen at a gas station putting $14 worth of gas in her car. According to TIME, that was unusual. Ali Fadhel, a clerk at the gas station, said Chambers almost always put $5 worth of gas in her car.
"I asked her, 'Why are you putting so much gas?' She said, 'I'm going somewhere,'" Fadhel told the Associated Press.