Unknown hitchhiker: Link to Jessica Chambers burning death?

Jessica Chambers | Photo: MGN Online

A woman testified Wednesday that she picked up a hitchhiker the night that a Mississippi woman was fatally burned, but she's unsure whether it's the man prosecutors have on trial.

Posted: Sep 27, 2018 9:19 AM

BATESVILLE, Miss. (AP) — A woman testified Wednesday that she picked up a hitchhiker the night that a Mississippi woman was fatally burned, but she's unsure whether it's the man prosecutors have on trial.

Quinton Tellis is being retried on capital murder charges, accused of burning Jessica Chambers on a rural backroad on the outskirts of the Mississippi hamlet of Courtland in 2014. She died hours later in a Memphis, Tennessee, hospital. A jury couldn't reach a verdict in Tellis' first trial last year.

Sherry Flowers didn't identify Tellis in court Wednesday and agreed with a prosecutor that she didn't know whom she picked up.

Flowers, who didn't testify last year, said a man flagged her down and she stopped because she believed it might be her cousin. It wasn't, but she agreed to pick up an African-American man whom she described as appearing to be about 20 years old and having a small to medium build. Tellis, who is 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter), was 26 at the time

Still, prosecutors sought to connect the ride to Chambers' death, suggesting it was the right time for Tellis to be heading away from Chambers' car before he returned to burn it. Prosecutors also called witnesses who lived at the destination the hitchhiker cited who said they were cousins of Tellis.

The defense disputed the timing, and Flowers acknowledged she wasn't sure what time she made the trip, saying only "I know I picked someone up."

After Flowers left the Batesville courthouse, the Clarion Ledger reported deputies made a "traffic stop" of an individual who may have been following Flowers. Panola County Sheriff Dennis Darby said he didn't know who had been stopped or if anyone had been arrested.

Flowers picked up the hitchhiker close to a location where a sheriff's investigator had testified on Wednesday that a Courtland resident found Chambers' keys in a ditch two days after her death. The defense objects to the keys being entered into evidence because officials can't prove where the keys were during that time.

Four more emergency workers testified Wednesday that they heard Chambers say something that sounded like Eric when asked who had attacked her, bringing the total to give such testimony to 10 first responders over two days. One said she described the attacker as a black person, while another said Chambers indicated the attacker was not her boyfriend. The defense contends prosecutors have the wrong man on trial.

Several also described Chambers wounds.

"Skin was hanging off of her lips (and) out of her nose," emergency medical technician Bradley Dixon testified. "Her eyelashes and eyebrows were gone. The hair on top of her head was a big singe-ball."

A medical examiner testified that Chambers' death was a homicide from soot and smoke inhalation and thermal injuries. Dr. Erin Barnhart said Chambers had burns over 93 percent of her body. She said Chambers was probably sitting when she was burned because of unburned tissue on her rear and lower back.

"I think the most likely scenario based on that pattern was that she was seated," Barnhart testified.

Prosecutors have said they believe Chambers was reclined in the passenger seat of her car when she was set on fire.

Another analyst testified gasoline was found on the remains of Chambers' bra. Prosecutors have said they believe Tellis retrieved a gasoline can from a shed after he left the scene the first time and returned to set the car and Chambers ablaze.

The trial is scheduled to continue Thursday with jurors touring locations involved in the crime and hearing from more witnesses.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 313942

Reported Deaths: 7240
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21580258
Hinds20330415
Harrison17879309
Rankin13594278
Jackson13429246
Madison10088217
Lee9970174
Jones8370163
Forrest7670152
Lauderdale7188241
Lowndes6387146
Lamar622486
Lafayette6184118
Washington5332133
Bolivar4801132
Oktibbeha462198
Panola4582106
Pearl River4506146
Marshall4435103
Warren4386121
Pontotoc420172
Monroe4107133
Union410076
Neshoba4030176
Lincoln3962110
Hancock378486
Leflore3493125
Sunflower335990
Tate333384
Pike3316105
Scott315773
Alcorn312768
Yazoo311469
Itawamba299777
Copiah296865
Coahoma295179
Simpson294988
Tippah288168
Prentiss279760
Adams278782
Marion269080
Leake267473
Wayne262641
Grenada261386
Covington258281
George247848
Newton246261
Winston227081
Tishomingo226667
Jasper221048
Attala214273
Chickasaw207757
Holmes188873
Clay185254
Stone182433
Tallahatchie178541
Clarke177980
Calhoun170532
Yalobusha164238
Smith162334
Walthall133945
Greene130533
Lawrence128524
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123042
Carroll121828
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107033
Tunica105226
Claiborne102430
Benton99525
Humphreys96533
Kemper95728
Franklin83623
Quitman80716
Choctaw76318
Wilkinson67230
Jefferson65528
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 531404

Reported Deaths: 10985
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson765501522
Mobile41036805
Madison34789503
Tuscaloosa25788453
Montgomery24340589
Shelby23449249
Baldwin21154308
Lee15882171
Calhoun14511314
Morgan14306279
Etowah13843353
Marshall12232223
Houston10570281
Elmore10068205
Limestone9974151
Cullman9676194
St. Clair9661243
Lauderdale9427241
DeKalb8831186
Talladega8227176
Walker7241277
Autauga6926108
Jackson6814112
Blount6678137
Colbert6306134
Coffee5519119
Dale4838111
Russell441538
Chilton4296112
Franklin426082
Covington4129118
Tallapoosa4023152
Escambia393677
Chambers3573123
Dallas3551152
Clarke351161
Marion3122101
Pike310977
Lawrence300398
Winston274473
Bibb260964
Geneva250477
Marengo249564
Pickens234461
Barbour231057
Hale223077
Butler216069
Fayette212562
Henry188844
Cherokee185245
Randolph180542
Monroe177540
Washington167339
Macon159650
Clay156756
Crenshaw152557
Cleburne148941
Lamar142535
Lowndes138853
Wilcox127130
Bullock122841
Conecuh110529
Perry107726
Coosa107628
Sumter104732
Greene92534
Choctaw60724
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