On Monday, a judge declared a mistrial in the case involving a cheerleader who was burned to death after the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Jurors deliberated for 10 hours before announcing they were deadlocked. Quinton Tellis, 29, will be retried in the capital murder death of Jessica Chambers, the 19-year-old victim.
As reported by the Daily Mail, Tellis pleaded not guilty to the charge of capital murder. According to Prosecutor John Champion, Tellis and Chambers had sex in her car that evening and that Tellis may have suffocated Chambers and believed he killed her.
Champion stated during the trial that Tellis then drove Chambers’ vehicle, with her inside, down a back road to his sister’s house. Then, Tellis allegedly took his sister’s car to retrieve some gasoline from a shed at his home, returning only to light Chambers’ vehicle on fire with her inside.
Chambers’ suffered third-degree burns over 95 percent of her body. She was found that night after walking out of a wooded area, though died from her injuries the following day.
Defense attorneys stated that Tellis was not responsible, citing testimony from firefighters who said that Chambers told them the person responsible was named “Eric” or “Derek.”
Champion asserted that, due to the damage to her throat, Chambers was unable to pronounce the letter T and claimed she could have been attempting to say “Tellis.” A physician familiar with burns confirmed that the extensive damage to Chambers’ mouth, throat, and chest would have left her unable to effectively pronounce words when communicating with firefighters.
First responders stated that Chambers looked like a “zombie” when they found her due to her charred skin and hair.
Tellis did confirm that he was with Chambers that night, that he was with her in her car at approximately 5:30 pm, and that they spent around one and a half hours together.
Surveillance footage suggests Tellis was with Chambers until around 7:30 pm as he was allegedly spotted operating his sister’s vehicle as he went toward his home at 7:50 pm and again when he went back in the direction of the crime scene a few minutes later.
If convicted of Chambers murder, Tellis faces life in prison without the chance of parole.
Tellis is also facing another murder indictment in Louisiana for the Torture death of 34-year-old Meing-Chen Hsiao, a Taiwanese University of Louisiana at Monroe graduate student. A trial date has yet to be set in that case.