Man charged in murder of Jessica Chambers pleads 'not guilty'

Man charged in murder of Jessica Chambers pleads 'not guilty'
Jessica Chambers was found burning near her car on Dec. 6, 2014 (Source: Family)
Jessica Chambers was found burning near her car on Dec. 6, 2014 (Source: Family)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The man accused of killing Mississippi teenager Jessica Chambers pleaded 'not guilty' in court Friday.

Jessica Chambers died in December 2014 after she was found burning alive next to her car. In February 2016, 27-year-old Quinton Tellis was charged with capital murder in her death.

Jessica's father, Ben Chambers, was at court for Tellis' appearance. The District Attorney's Office told Jessica's family not to talk to the media, but her father was able give a statement.

"I really don't know what to say. It was rough seeing him today. He makes me feel that pain of losing Jessica all over again," Chambers said.

Tellis was extradited from Louisiana after pleading guilty to using a debit card that belonged to a University of Louisiana--Monroe student found dead in her dorm room. Tellis was later charged in her murder.

District Attorney John Champion said Tellis' trial in Mississippi could happen as early as next spring.

Champion did not go into details about the case, but listed the many charges Tellis faced throughout the years.

Panola County Sheriff Dennis Darby said the case was personal, not only because he knew Jessica Chambers, but also because he has young daughters.

"It won't ever go away, but how can you relate when this has happened to your own," Darby said. "It makes me more protective of our own and others out there."

Through Monday's hearing, Tellis' family did not show any emotion in the courtroom, but on the other side, Chambers' family sat close together, many in tears.

"They've held up good in public, but I'm sure when they go home reality sets in," Darby said. "This is every day now, and this will be resolved in the end to relieve some of the frustrations of life."

Lead investigator Barry Thompson was in the court room the entire time.

"It was an uplifting experience," Thompson said. "Especially to hear the family, to see the tears and everything come into fruition. It was a great feeling."

Tellis never spoke. His attorney Darla Palmer entered a not guilty plea.

Thompson admits his work is just beginning and he said he won't give up fighting for justice for Jessica.

"We got a lot of work to do, especially to get ready for trial, but we are ready," Thompson said. "I want to see it through to the very end for justice for Jessica."

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