Defense attorneys, Darla Palmer, right, and Alton Peterson, left, talks with defendant Quinton Tellis during Tellis’ new process, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, in Batesville, Miss. Tellis is accused of the killing of Jessica Chambers in the vicinity of a small town in Mississippi 2014. A jury could not reach a decision in Tellis’ first trial last year. (Mark Weber/The Commercial appeal via AP, Pool)
BATESVILLE, Miss. – Prosecutors on Friday played hours of interrogation videos in the trial of a man charged with the burning of a Mississippi woman to death, trying to show jurors how he repeatedly changed his story when he was confronted with conflicting evidence.
Quinton Tellis is retried on capital murder charges in the 2014 death of Jessica Chambers after a jury couldn’t reach a decision in Tellis’ first trial last year.
The prosecutors showed videos of at least three different surveys of Tellis in 2015 and 2016, local media report. He was imprisoned at that time in Monroe, Louisiana, in connection with the stabbing death of Opinion-Chen Hsiao, an international student from Taiwan. Tellis is also indicted for the murder in her death and has already pled guilty to unauthorized use of her debit card.
Agent Scott Meadows of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified that Tellis to emerge as a serious suspect after his mobile phone records started to connect and the Rooms are at different locations on the night she died.
Tellis first rejected, with Rooms at any time during the evening.
“He swore on his mother, he was not with Jessica,” Meadows testified.
After the researchers told him that his and Chambers’ cell phones traveled 5 miles (8 kilometers) from their home town of Courtland to Batesville, he said that he had met at a Taco Bell in Batesville.
But Tellis then told them that he had borrowed a truck from his friend, Michael “Big Mike” Sanford. Finally, when researchers told Tellis she knew Sanford and his truck had been at a football game in Nashville, Tennessee, that night, he admitted that he drove with the Rooms.
That Tellis, with Rooms until about 6:30 pm on the evening of her death. Researchers say that both their mobile phones than were silent for an hour after returning to Courtland. The prosecutors believe Tellis Rooms and had sex in her car on a rural backroad, leaving her unconscious. They argue Tellis then went and fetched a petrol can, lighting of Rooms and her car on fire. She was found burned alive, but preferably away from the burning car just after 8 hours
Video was also played Friday Tellis discuss burns on his arms and bottom. He told investigators that burns came in a game where he and his friend were jumping over a fire.
“At the end, as I fell back into the fire, and she pulled me up,” he said, although he could not recall when he was burned.
Also discussed was surveillance video shows a vehicle arrives on Tellis’ house about 7:50 p.m. and someone will get something from a shed, where he later told investigators he had a gas can. The vehicle then leaves in the direction of where Chambers’ car was found, just a few minutes before the fire was reported.
Tellis denies killing Rooms.
“It’s never been in my heart to kill somebody,” Tellis told investigators in 2015 an interview. “If I ever found any news of someone who killed her, I would tell you.”
His defense attorneys note 10 workers testified they heard a badly burned Rooms tell them someone with the name Eric attacked her, claiming the prosecutors have the wrong man on trial. However, two experts have testified for the prosecution that the Rooms, although they could the sound was so burned that she could not clearly pronounce words.
Also Friday, a forensic DNA analyst testified about the DNA present on the Rooms’ keys. Kathryn Rodgers said male DNA present may belong to Tellis, but they can exclude 99.7 per cent of the men.
“‘He cannot be excluded” does not mean that his DNA was definitely on the keys,” Rodgers said. “He just can not be excluded as a possible contribution.”
Rodgers stated that a first round of tests, and autosomal chromosome testing, found at least four people of DNA on the keys, but that Tellis was excluded from the mix.
Testimony continues Saturday.