Suspect in burning death of Jessica Chambers wants DA thrown off the case

The defense team for the suspect heading to the re-trial for the murder of Jessica Chambers wants the lead prosecutor off the case.

According to LocalMemphis.com, attorneys for Quinton Tellis have asked Mississippi Supreme Court to recuse  D.A. John Champion from the murder case, and want him to be sanctioned.

As CrimeOnline previously reported,  defense attorney Darla Palmer had previously accused District Attorney John Champion of intimidating a potential witness, who is also her client. A judge sided with the D.A., rejecting the defense attorney’s request to delay the start of Tellis’s retrial, and allowing Champion to remain on the case. The defense team is now appealing that ruling.

Tellis’s attorneys previously argued that Champion led a witness, Palmer’s client, to make potentially incriminating statements about Tellis during a jailhouse interview. When emergency responders found Chambers, badly burned, in December 2014, she was briefly conscious and reportedly said that someone by the name of “Eric” or “Derek” had set her on fire.

Investigators searched in vain for someone by either name who could be connected to the crime, and arrested Tellis, who had admitted to seeing Chambers earlier on the day of her death, after discovering that he made misleading statements to police.

A witness, who is also jailed, reportedly came forward to claim that Jalen Caudle, an accused murderer who met Tellis in jail, said that Tellis told him that Jessica sometimes called him by the nickname “Eric.”

Champion reportedly met with Caudle to verify this claim, but said at a hearing last month that he never asked Caudle directly about the nickname — claiming that the suspect offered the information himself “out of the clear blue.” Champion also said that he did not believe Caudle’s claim about the nickname.

The D.A. further argued that he was not guilty of prosecutorial misconduct because he did not discuss Caudle’s own case with the inmate.

The judge ultimately sided with Champion. But Tellis’s defense team is now arguing that the judge did not ask Champion the proper questions before clearing him of the misconduct allegations. They are again asking to delay the start date of the retrial.

Tellis’s first trial ended with a hung jury. The retrial is set to begin in September 24.