VERDICT WATCH: Jury resumes deliberations in Jessica Chambers murder

Elias Hubbard
October 18, 2017

Spectators were told to expect a verdict in the trial of a MS man charged with burning a woman to death, but jurors did not reach a unanimous agreement.

That started a chain of events that led to a hung jury and a mistrial in the murder trial of Quinton Tellis and sparked a wave of emotions for his family and the relatives of Jessica Chambers.

Some first responders who testified in the emotional trial, several in tears, said Chambers looked like a "zombie", with burned skin and hair, when she walked from a wooded area in Courtland, Mississippi, on December 6, 2014. She died hours later.

Jurors had deliberated between nine and 10 hours in the trial of 29-year-old Quinton Tellis.

The jury in the tense murder trial of a MS man charged with setting a 19-year-old friend on fire and leaving her to die handed a bailiff a note: They have reached a verdict. At one point, the jury entered the courtroom and the foreman told the judge that they reached a unanimous verdict before a juror interjected with "We all didn't agree on it!" When they returned minutes later, they announced a unanimous verdict of not guilty. When they were polled, seven jurors had said the believed Quinton Tellis was guilty, and five had said not guilty.

Circuit Judge Gerald Chatham told the jury to go back for further deliberations.

Conversely, the victim's mother said she's sick over Monday's mistrial but will continue fighting for her slain daughter. Eight first responders testified that she told them that "Eric set me on fire".

Defense attorneys argued Sunday that the wrong man is on trial and that their client should be found innocent.

Tellis' family said outside the courtroom that they were relieved for the verdict, but they urged authorities to "find Eric".

"We're going to come back and do this again".

"When the first responders got to Jessica, they didn't hear the name Quinton", district attorney John Champion said. "Jessica will have her justice", Lisa Chambers said.

After the mistrial, Champion vowed to try the case again. "Maybe she wasn't trying to say "Eric,"' he said".

Tellis pleaded not guilty and did not testify during the trial. "E.R.I.C. Eric".

Emergency responders said Chambers looked like a "zombie" with burned skin and hair when they found her wandering near a road in Courtland, Mississippi, on December 6, 2014. "Maybe she was trying to say 'Tellis"'.

Tellis then drove Chambers' vehicle with her inside it to the back road, ran to his sister's house nearby, jumped in his sisters' auto, stopped to pick up gasoline from a shed at his house and torched Chambers' vehicle and her, Champion said. Authorities said it's too early to know what the timeline will look like between MS and Louisiana as the two cases move forward.

Early in the investigation, Tellis told investigators he had only seen Chambers during the morning on the day she died.

They reached a verdict.

Witnesses broke down during testimony and spectators wept as jurors were shown graphic photos of Chambers' burns.

Cellphone data and surveillance cameras show Tellis was with Chambers the night of her murder.

A smouldering Chambers was found on the back road by a passing motorist shortly after 8 p.m.

Tellis told investigators he kept a 5-gallon container of gasoline in a shed at his house. Prosecutors believe he was driving his sister's vehicle when he picked up the gas from his shed before setting Chambers on fire.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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