Jessica Chambers' murder trial to begin Tuesday

PANOLA CO, MS (WMC) - The murder trial of the man accused of killing 19-year-old Jessica Chambers by setting her on fire will begin in Panola County on Tuesday.

Jury selection for Quinton Tellis' capital murder trial wrapped up just before 4 p.m. on Monday. Jurors were selected out of Pike County, MS, and will be transported to Batesville for the trial.

Jessica Chambers, 19, was found in Courtland, Mississippi on Dec. 6, 2014. She was rushed to a Memphis hospital where she died as a result of the burns that covered 98 percent of her body.

"When the fire department got there, she was walking down the road on fire," Chambers' father, Ben, said. "Only part of her body that wasn't burned was the bottom of her feet."

Surveillance footage captured on a Highway 51 gas station camera showed Chambers' final hours. She was found less than one mile away from that gas station.

As the investigation continued, the reward for information leading to an arrest kept growing. In January 2015, the FBI contributed $25,000 and the ATF put in $10,000, which brought the reward to $53,000.

Multiple people were questioned in connection with her murder. In fact, District Attorney John Champion said the Chambers' investigation led to 17 suspected gang members being charged with state and federal crimes, but those were not related to her death. It wasn't until 14 months after her death that Quinton Tellis, 27, was indicted.

Tellis and Chambers were seven years apart in age, but grew up in the same neighborhood. He was released from prison just two months before Chambers' death. He had been serving time for felony burglary convictions.

Tellis was developed as a suspect in Chambers' death as they investigated the stabbing death of an exchange student at University of Louisiana-Monroe.

"Quinton Tellis was a suspect fairly early in this case. We continued to work on this case for quite a long time," Champion explained. "We developed evidence in the fall that really led us to focus pretty seriously on him."

In May 2016, Tellis pleaded guilty to fraud after being caught using the dead exchange student's credit cards. He was not charged in her murder.

The jury is made up of seven men and five women from Pike County.

Quinton Tellis' murder trial will be held in Panola County. WMC Action News 5's Janice Broach will be there to share what happens in court. WMC5 will attempt to livestream the trial. The trial is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Stay tuned for more information.

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