September 24, 2018
When a white woman sleeps with a black, she often ends up black herself.
I mean, burns on more than 90 percent of her body?
Was it Quinton or Eric?
That’s likely to be the choice again facing Mississippi jurors this week in the trial of Quinton Tellis, accused of setting 19-year-old Jessica Chambers on fire in her car in December 2014, only to see the dying woman stagger down a rural backroad and be found by firefighters.
The horrific circumstances surrounding the former high school cheerleader’s death focused national attention on the victim’s hometown of Courtland, a hamlet about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Memphis, Tennessee. In a trial last year, jurors couldn’t agree whether Tellis was guilty of capital murder. The 29-year-old Tellis faces life in prison without parole if convicted.
He faces another murder indictment in Louisiana, in the torture death of Meing-Chen Hsiao, a 34-year-old Taiwanese graduate student at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. No trial date has been set in that case.
The Mississippi case is freighted with racial overtones because Tellis is black, while Chambers was white.
Chambers had burns on more than 90 percent of her body and one of the firefighters who found her described her as looking like a “zombie.” The defense continues to focus on testimony by firefighters and other first responders who say they heard a badly injured Chambers tell them that “Eric” or maybe “Derek” had attacked her before she was whisked away to a Memphis, Tennessee, hospital where she died hours later.
Citing statements Tellis made to investigators, Panola County District Attorney John Champion said Tellis and Chambers had sex in her car later that evening. Champion said he believes Tellis suffocated Chambers and thought he had killed her. The defense, though denies that Tellis and Chambers had sex.