Murder trial underway in 2014 death of MS cheerleader found burned alive


Firefighters who reported to where Chamber's auto was found burning had said that she told them "Eric" was responsible.

In his opening statement, Prosecutor John Champion acknowledged that the first responders did hear her say the name "Eric" or "Derek" but that she could have been saying "Tellis", but the damage done to her throat made it sound different.

Tellis has pleaded not guilty to capital murder in the death of the 19-year-old Chambers, who authorities said was found with burns on 93 percent of her body on December 6, 2014, in Courtland, Mississippi.

Jessica Chambers, 19, was burned along with her vehicle on a MS backroad in 2014.

The defense maintains that Tellis has been falsely accused, and that Chambers' dying statement to firefighters shows the killer was someone else.

"I responded to the scene... approached the patient and asked her who she was".

Tellis allegedly realized Chambers was still alive and that is when he drove Chambers' vehicle with her inside down a backroad, got in his sister's auto, grabbed gasoline and doused both Chambers and the vehicle before lighting them on fire.

"Horrific burns", Mr Champion said. The prosecutor also said Tellis' alibi was fabricated. Palmer said that Chambers, who was "alert, able to speak", told at least eight first responders a man named Eric was responsible for burning her and her vehicle. "At one point I even laid down beside her".

He said Chambers and Tellis had only known each other for a short time before she was burned to death on a backroad in the rural community of Courtland.

Quinton Tellis faces life in prison if convicted in the 19-year-old's death almost three years ago in Courtland, Mississippi, but has maintained his innocence in the case.

Defence attorney Darla Palmer said Tellis is wrongly accused.

"She said, 'Eric set me on fire, ' " Palmer argued in court. She didn't know the person's last name. "You look at it at the time, her hair is just fried".

Palmer told jurors that Tellis never confessed to the killing.

"He insisted this is not something he would do", Palmer said. Authorities have said about 20,000 telephone numbers were analyzed as part of the investigation. Witnesses will include cellphone data experts, Champion said.

Tellis has pleaded not guilty in Chamber's death.

In an unrelated case, he has been indicted for murder in the death of Meing-Chen Hsiao, a 34-year-old Taiwanese graduate student in Louisiana.

First up, Champion. Describing Chambers as a "beautiful, blonde-haired 19-year-old", he set the basis of the state's case.