The testimony phase of the retrial of a Mississippi man charged with the burning death of a 19-year-old woman has ended.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, 29-year-old Quinton Tellis was in court again last week after a mistrial on murder charges last year. He was arrested on suspicion of causing fatal injuries to Jessica Chambers, who was found severely burned alongside a road near Courtland.
According to the Miami Herald, jurors began deliberating Sunday following closing arguments.
Prosecutors in the case say Tellis repeatedly lied to authorities, citing multiple instances in which they say he changed his story.
Panola County Assistant District Attorney Jay Hale concluded with his belief that prosecutors had “proven every element required to prove Quinton Tellis guilty of capital murder beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The defendant’s legal team, however, pointed to evidence from emergency personnel who say Chambers used her dying breath to name “Eric” as her attacker.
Hale dismissed the argument that his team was attempting to paint the defendant as a “supercriminal” by painting a violent and complex portrait of the brutal crime. Prosecutors pointed to evidence including cellphone data and surveillance footage from nearby in backing up their version of events.
“Quinton Tellis went down to that crime scene and lit this child on fire,” the assistant district attorney said.
Defense attorneys contended that the district attorney put the cart before the horse, starting the investigation with the assumption that their client was guilty.
“They came back to Quinton Tellis and they started working backwards,” attorney Alton Peterson said. “They came up with a picture and it was their job to make the evidence to fit into that picture.”
Attorney Darla Palmer argued that there “is reasonable doubt in this case,” asking jurors to consider the apparent absence of “the actual search of Eric who did this.”