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Crime News Unspeakable Crime: The Killing of Jessica Chambers

Quinton Tellis Petition In Jessica Chambers Murder Case Denied, Retrial On

Mississippi teen Jessica Chambers was burned alive in 2014.

By Gina Tron

The Mississippi Supreme Court issued an order denying Quinton Tellis' petition for appeal on Thursday morning, and now it’s almost certain that his retrial will move forward as scheduled on September 24. Oxygen.com obtained that order, which stated that a panel denied the petition after “due consideration.”

Earlier this month Tellis’ lawyers had appealed a judge’s July ruling clearing a prosecutor of misconduct. Judge Gerald Chatham in Sardis, Mississippi ruled after a day-long hearing that he heard no evidence of prosecutorial misconduct that would prejudice the retrial. Tellis’ defense attorney Darla Palmer had filed a motion seeking removal of the District Attorney and his office as well as sanctions, alleging misconduct by District Attorney John Champion. Champion vehemently denies the claims. Palmer filed a motion that accused Champion of pressuring a potential witness, Jalen Caudle, in the case.

With the rejection of the appeal of that ruling, and as the date of the retrial of Tellis for the 2014 burning death of Jessica Chambers looms closer, details about its logistics are being finalized.

Champion confirmed on Tuesday that the trial will again be held in Batesville, Mississippi, the same court where the first trial took place, according to the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tennessee.

The jury will be selected from Oktibbeha County, located about 120 miles southeast of Batesville. Chambers, 19, was burned alive in rural Courtland, Mississippi, a tiny town with a population of less than 500, located five miles away from Batesville.

"As far as I know, the jury will be selected there [Oktibbeha County], brought to Batesville and sequestered,” Champion told the Commercial Appeal.

Tellis’ first murder trial ended in a mistrial last year. In that case, jurors were from Pike County, Mississippi, which is about 250 miles south of Batesville. Tellis faces a capital murder charge for the death of the former cheerleader.

Police found Chambers walking on the side of a rural road near her burning car around 8 p.m. on December 6, 2014. More than 93 percent of her body was badly burned. Prosecutors believe she was inside her car when it was doused with an accelerant then set ablaze but somehow she managed to escape. She died a short time later at the hospital. Among the last words Chambers spoke, according to first responders, were the words, “Eric did it.” Those three words went on to dominate the case, and the first trial.

The tragedy will be explored in Oxygen's upcoming docu-series Unspeakable Crime: The Killing of Jessica Chambers,” which premieres on September 15.

[Photo of Quinton Tellis: Ouachita Parish Sheriff]