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UPDATE - Firefighters: Victim said 'Eric' set her ablaze

Jessica Chambers | Photo: MGN Online

Prosecutors say evidence will show a man killed a Mississippi woman by setting her on fire, but defense attorneys say prosecutors can't prove it and that someone else killed her.

Posted: Sep. 25, 2018 11:06 AM
Updated: Sep. 25, 2018 3:54 PM

Update 09/25/18 3:53 p.m.

At least four Mississippi emergency workers say they heard a dying woman tell them someone named Eric had set her on fire.


Quinton Tellis | Photo: MGN Online

The men testified Tuesday in the capital murder retrial of Quinton Tellis, who is accused of killing Jessica Chambers in 2014 by setting her on fire. Jurors couldn't reach a verdict in the first trial last year.

Earlier Tuesday, a speech pathologist testified that Chambers was so severely burned that she wouldn't have been able to produce "articulate" sound.

Tellis' defense lawyers say prosecutors have the wrong man on trial and are urging jurors to believe what firefighters, paramedics and others heard on a roadside on the outskirts of rural Courtland.

Prosecutors say evidence including cellphone locations, video, DNA on a keychain and Tellis' statements point to him killing Chambers.

Update below from 12:40 p.m. 

A speech pathologist says a Mississippi woman who suffered fatal burns could not speak clearly after she was set on fire.

Carolyn Wiles Higdon testified Tuesday in the trial of Quinton Tellis, who is being retried for capital murder in the 2014 death of Jessica Chambers. Jurors couldn't reach a verdict in the first trial last year.

Higdon says Chambers was so severely burned that she wouldn't have been able to produce "articulate" sound within two to three minutes after she was burned.

That testimony could help undercut a key defense argument — that multiple emergency workers heard a dying Chambers say someone named "Eric" attacked her. Defense attorneys urged jurors to trust that testimony — a foundation of their arguments in the first trial.

Prosecutors say evidence pointed to Tellis killing Chambers.

See the original post below.

BATESVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Prosecutors say evidence will show a man killed a Mississippi woman by setting her on fire, but defense attorneys say prosecutors can't prove it and that someone else killed her.

Quinton Tellis is being retried on capital murder charges in the death of Jessica Chambers in 2014, after jurors couldn't reach a verdict in his first trial last year.

Opening statements began Tuesday in Panola County Circuit Court in Batesville in a trial that could last a week. Jurors were selected Monday in Starkville more than 120 miles (195 kilometers) away because of pretrial publicity.

Tellis faces another murder indictment in the 2015 stabbing death of Meing-Chen Hsiao in Monroe, Louisiana. He's already pleaded guilty to unauthorized use of her debit card. The 29-year-old Tellis is currently serving a prison sentence in Mississippi on an unrelated burglary charge.

Prosecutors say cellphone locations, video, DNA on a keychain and Tellis' statements link him to Chambers' death. A new witness may testify she picked up Tellis that night near where Chambers, who was 19, was burned.

"Once you hear all the evidence the state offers, you're going to have plenty of evidence to convict him of capital murder," Panola County Assistant District Attorney Jay Hale told jurors.

The defense emphasized that multiple emergency workers heard the dying Chambers say someone named "Eric" attacked her, calling the prosecution's evidence "speculation" or "unreliable." Defense attorney Darla Palmer urged jurors to disregard evidence about cellphone locations that she said can't prove Tellis and Chambers were in exactly the same place.

"This evidence is always going to show, it's always going to say Eric did it, no matter what the state does to diminish that, and we would ask that you find Quinton not guilty."

Hale said investigators had interviewed many people named Eric or Derek but ruled all of them out. He said that after the inquiry reached a dead end, investigators re-examined Tellis who had been an early suspect. Hale said investigators focused on him after he changed his story and admitted he had been with Chambers later on the Saturday of her death.

"Quinton Tellis had not been truthful to investigators," Hale said.

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