Lawyer: prosecutor tried to coach fake testimony

JACKSON, Miss. – The lawyer for a man accused of the murder of a Mississippi woman by her fire, according to a prosecutor, sought false testimony of another suspect in exchange for leniency.

In a motion filed Monday, the attorney for Quinton Tellis asked that Panola County District Attorney John Champion to be generated from the case and punished, and that September, a new process will be delayed while the attorney general’s office takes over the prosecution.

Tellis is accused of killing the 19-year-old Jessica Chambers in 2014.

Panola County Circuit Judge Gerald Chatham is scheduled to hear arguments Monday on the motion in Sardis.

“I can’t discuss the motion,” Champion, in a letter to The Associated Press in a text message Tuesday. “The court is Monday, when the facts come out.”

Tellis’ first trial ended in October in a hung jury. Lawyer Darla Palmer claims in papers filed Thursday that the Champion is a meeting with one of her clients, Jalen Asir Matthews Caudle, without her consent in April. Palmer told The Associated Press Tuesday that Caudle met Tellis when both were captured together in DeSoto County, and that Caudle was her client after Tellis had referred him.

In an affidavit, the 19-year-old Caudle said that Champion tried to “guide” him say Quinton Tellis had told him that Chambers had called Tellis “Eric.”

Prosecutors say Tellis set Chambers and her car on fire on a rural back road near Courtland on the night of Dec. 6, 2014. Firefighters and police officers testified at the first trial that they heard Chambers say “Eric” or “Derek” attacked her, even though prosecutors presented testimony that Chambers was so burnt that they have not been able to properly pronounce words. Champion said that other evidence led to Tellis, but the defendant’s lawyers made Chambers’ words from the middle of their case.

“‘Eric’ is not on trial today, but ladies and gentlemen, he should be,” Palmer told the jury in closing arguments.

Caudle, a Horn Lake resident, was indicted on capital murder, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and gang charges in relation to March 2017 shooting in Southaven. He was one of the five people initially charged.

Caudle said he was brought in to meet with the Champion at the DeSoto County jail on April 5, and that Champion stated that he was ‘the cost is much, very much, something where you can at home a lot faster,” and when asked Caudle “Is there something you want to tell me about Quinton is the case?”

Later, Caudle said Champion said: “Jalen, what do you think of this. Quinton’s nickname was Eric, right?”

Caudle said that he did not know, but said Champion, continued to try to “guide me in, and said things,” they say “OK, let me help you. Quinton told you that Jessica called him Eric, right?”

Caudle also said Champion urged him to drop Palmer as his attorney. “I know a public defender,” Caudle told that Champion said. “He is a friend of mine. If you help me, then I promise that I will not send you away for life.”

Chambers was found walking on the road to see if a “zombie”, according to the testimonies. She had third-degree burns on more than 90 percent of her body when she died in a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, about 60 miles (95 km) north of Courtland. The horrifying circumstances of Chambers’ death garnered national attention.

Champion said the researchers searched for people with the name Eric or Derek, but ultimately concluded the evidence led to Tellis, including an analysis of the locations of Tellis’ mobile phone and the Chambers’ cellphone on the day of her death. Tellis has told investigators he does not know who killed Rooms, and denies ministry claims that he had sex with her. He admitted after first denying that they were together for a moment on the evening of her death.

Tellis faces another murder charge in Louisiana, where he is accused in the torture death of Opinion-Chen Hsiao, a 34-year-old Taiwanese student of the University of Louisiana at Monroe.


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