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The second Jessica Chambers murder trial ended in yet another hung jury this October. In the retrial of Quinton Tellis, prosecutors called several new witnesses, one of whom was Michael “Big Mike” Sanford.
Sanford was part of the alibi Tellis gave investigators when questioned in November 2015. At that time, Tellis claimed he had borrowed Sanford’s truck the night Jessica Chambers was set on fire — December 6, 2014.
“I went to Nashville,” said Sanford in his examination. “Had to have been around two-something.”
Tellis had told investigators he borrowed Sanford’s truck Saturday night, and drove to Batesville to meet Chambers in it.
“He’s lying, because my truck was in Nashville,” said Sanford, contradicting what Tellis said happened that night.
The defense also called a new witness — Shaneeka Williams, Quinton Tellis’ sister. Williams said she knew Jessica Chambers.
“I’d see her uptown and give her a ride,” said Williams, who knew Chambers was also from Courtland, Mississippi.
Williams remembers the day Chambers was burned. She said that Sanford had come to pick her up to go to the “sandbox,” a local hangout spot, where they spent the rest of the day. Sanford dropped her off at night.
In the cross-examination, the prosecutor asked Williams if she was aware that Sanford was caught on video at a store in the afternoon, presumably on his way to Nashville. Williams said he might have left to pick something up at the store, but they were ultimately together all day.
“I have no reason to lie,” said the older sister of Quinton Tellis.
Tellis had initially claimed he was with “Big Mike” Sanford at the sandbox as part of his alibi, and that he was in his truck the afternoon of Chambers’ burning.
Tellis changed his story in January 2016 when investigators told him that Sanford said he was in Nashville that day to watch a football game, according to WMC-5, with FBI Agent Tim Douglas noting that Tellis’ story had a lot of “uh-oh moments” where investigators would point out inconsistencies in his alibi, and then Tellis would adapt his story to fit their questioning. Tellis was indicted for Chambers’ murder a month after the final January 2016 interrogation.
In the cross-examination, defense attorney Peterson pointed out that Sanford had been convicted of a felony in another jurisdiction, and Shaneeka Williams stuck to her story that she had spent the day with Sanford in Courtland, Mississippi, not Nashville.
Tellis maintains his innocence, and in both trials, juries have not been able to reach a verdict on his guilt.
Quinton Tellis’ fate is still unclear. He has been transferred to Louisiana, where he is facing an arrest warrant for the murder of Taiwanese exchange student Meing-Chen “Mandy” Hsiao, who was found stabbed to death in 2015.
The Louisiana arrest warrant obtained by Oxygen.com acknowledges that the murder charge is based “solely” on circumstantial evidence, rather than anything directly linking Tellis to the crime.
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