A jury has been selected for the retrial of murder suspect Quinton Tellis, accused of burning 19-year-old Jessica Chambers alive in December 2014.
WJTV reports that jurors have been selected for Tellis’s retrial. His first murder trial was ruled a mistrial after a jury could not come to a decision. Jury selection began on Monday morning, with attorneys for both the prosecution and the defense working to evaluate the potential jurors’ suitability.
According to the report, the approximately 50 jurors were questioned about their exposure to media coverage about the case, whether they knew any witnesses, and their physical health.
Ultimately 12 jurors were selected along with three alternates. The racial and gender makeup of the jurors is five black females, four black males, three white males, and three white females.
Jessica Chambers was white and Quinton Tellis is black. They both lived in Courtland, Mississippi, at the time of the murder. The trial will take place in Batesville, also in Panola County.
Chambers, 19, was found next to her burning car on December 6, 2014. First responders found her badly burned, her hair fried and her arms out at her sides like a “zombie;” though still clinging to life though. Despite their desperate attempts to save her, Jessica died in a Memphis hospital the next morning.
It would be nearly a year and a half before police arrested Quinton Tellis, a recent friend of Jessica’s who had spent time with her the day of the murder. Initially, police had been hoping to identify a possible suspect based on Jessica’s last words. As multiple first responders said at Quinton Tellis’s first murder trial, Jessica said the name “Eric” when she was asked who did this to her.
But after locating and interviewing dozens of Erics and Dereks in the area, authorities were no closer to identifying a suspect. When the District Attorney’s office went back and reviewed evidence collected earlier in the investigation, they found that Tellis’s cell phone signal was near the location where Jessica was found burned alive that night.
But Tellis’s family insists that authorities have the wrong man. And the fact that Jessica said another man’s name likely prevented some jurors at Tellis’s first trial from concluding he was guilty of her murder.
This time, as the Clarion-Leder reported, prosecutors may have a new witness.
The selected jurors are reportedly on their way to Batesville to being proceedings.