A man accused of dousing a 19-year-old former high school cheerleader with a flammable liquid, setting her ablaze and leaving her to die along a north Mississippi back road.
Firefighters in Courtland, Miss., found Chambers beside her burning car on a remote road near a tree farm. Chambers was quickly taken to a Memphis hospital, about 60 miles to the north, with burns over 98 percent of her body. She died hours later.
The mystery deepened in the horrific murder of 19-year-old Jessica Chambers when new details emerged about a stranger flagging down a car for a ride the night she was burned alive.
The bombshell revelation was introduced Wednesday at the murder retrial for Quinton Tellis, who allegedly had sex with and killed Chambers in December 2014 on a rural road in Courtland, Mississippi.
Tellis, 29, faces capital murder charges in Panola County Circuit Court for allegedly dousing Chambers in gasoline then setting the former cheerleader and her car on fire.
Prosecutors brought in a new witness who claimed she picked up a young man near where Chambers’ keys were found — but didn’t come forward with the information until after Tellis’ first trial, which ended in 2017 with a hung jury.
The witness, local resident Sherry Flowers, was called to testify Wednesday and claimed she stopped on the side of the road for the stranger because she initially thought he was her cousin.
Flowers testified she told her mother and sister about the ride but didn’t initially contact authorities because she “couldn’t remember the person” and “felt like it was irrelevant.”
Julia Chambers also took the stand Wednesday, confirming that firefighters paid a visit to her home the evening that Jessica Chambers was killed. She said that her home had become filled with smoke in a separate incident involving a microwave.
But Julia Chambers claimed that it has “been a while” since she saw Tellis and he never appeared at her home the night of the murder.
The new revelations marked the second day of testimony in Tellis’ trial, where his lawyers argued he was falsely accused because multiple emergency responders heard the dying victim name “Derek” or “Eric” as her attacker.
Prosecutors, however, called a medical expert to the stand who said the teen girl wouldn’t have been able to speak given the extent of her injuries.
The teen’s family became emotional at times Wednesday in the courtroom, particularly when the jury was shown photos of her burned body.
Tellis’ retrial comes as he faces another murder indictment in the 2015 stabbing death of Meing-Chen Hsiao in Monroe, Louisiana. He already pleaded guilty in the case to unauthorized use of her debit card. He is currently serving a prison sentence for an unrelated burglary charge.
I just hope for everyone’s sake that they didn’t convict the wrong man just because it was the easy way out. Take a look for yourself, But she said Derek or Eric…