Tellis Trial

Tellis trial set for Oct. 10 with jury from Pike County

By John Howell

The long anticipated trial for the man accused in the 2014 murder of Jessica Chambers is scheduled to begin Tuesday, October 10 in Batesville in front of jurors chosen the day before in Pike County, according to District Attorney John Champion.

Quinton Verdell Tellis of Courtland was indicted for capital murder in February, 2016 following a 14-month investigation by local, state and federal authorities. Tellis was charged with setting fire to Chambers in her car near Courtland on December 6, 2014.

Tellis, accompanied by his attorney, Darla Palmer of Jackson, met with Circuit Judge Gerald Chatham and Champion for a status conference in the Batesville courthouse Tuesday. Champion said that 12 Pike County residents plus a couple of alternates will be chosen as jurors during voir dire in McComb Monday, October 9. Jurors will be brought to Batesville by bus that evening for the trial.

The jury will be sequestered for the duration of the trial which is expected to last up to 14 days, according to the district attorney.

Panola County Circuit Clerk Melissa Meek-Phelps, who will be responsible for much of juror logistics, said that she has been scrambling to secure enough Batesville motel rooms for the jurors. The trial date overlaps an Ole Miss home game weekend with Vanderbilt which normally fills Batesville hotels and motels to capacity. The circuit clerk said that she expects the trial to cost Panola County at least $18,000 in lodging expense alone.

Courtland volunteer firefighters were shocked to find Chambers burned near her vehicle on Herron Road that Saturday night in 2014 when they thought they were responding to a car fire. Chambers died hours later in a Memphis hospital.

The search for Chambers’ killer turned into the most extensive investigation in Panola County’s history, eventually developing into a task force that included the FBI, MBI, ATF, Miss. Crime Lab, U.S. Attorney, State Coroner’s office, U.S. Marshal’s Service, the Panola County Sheriff’s Dept., Batesville Police Dept. along with Champion’s 17th Judicial District Attorney office.

Investigators painstakingly pieced together the forensic evidence and data, according to Champion during a press conference last year when Tellis’ indictment was announced. The evidence led back to Tellis, who had first been interviewed by investigators in December, 2014.

“This has been the most unusual case that I’ve ever dealt with,” Champion told reporters at that Feb., 2016 press conference.

Chambers’ murder and the long investigation brought international attention to the crime, interest that is expected to be rekindled by Tellis’ October trial.


  1. Regina Walker on August 11, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    I want Justice for Jessica! I have followed this horrific story from the beginning and hoped and prayed for that day to come! Prayers for her family!

  2. Dennis Presson on August 12, 2017 at 10:51 pm

    This is a HATE CRIME!

  3. Linda on August 13, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Set him on fire

    • Sharon Waldrop on September 3, 2017 at 6:13 am

      My sentiments exactly!!! A college football game? Lodging for the jurors of this trial is priority. An added shame to this is that hotel rates will be elevated due to the game, and passed on to the taxpayers.

      This trial is worth every single penny and I pray for justice for Jessica and her family. But a football game should have no relevance to this trial whatsoever.

  4. Tammy Ingebretson on August 15, 2017 at 10:34 pm

    Really? I am amazed we are talking about a football game. Really? Cost of Lodging? Seriously? I can not believe this Mickey Mouse BS. I understand small town but, this is ridiculous. One of the most watched Murders on social media, media, national we are reading this. I really have to question the professionalism of this area. Unreal!

    • Kelly on September 26, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      How can a hotel know that lodging would be needed in October when the courts didnt know when the trial was going to be? Rooms for games are booked a year in advance. You think we should throw out the football fans so a jury can stay? Thats stupid. They picked a jury from another county cuz they didnt think they could get an impartial jury from Panola County then that jury should stay in the county they came from so they wont possibly be influenced by the good people of Panola County. The people in Panola want this trial to happen more than anybody on this planet but you cant logically throw folks out of a hotel because of it. The idiots are the state and you not the business owners in Batesville..

  5. Jessica Chambers Mystery on August 17, 2017 at 9:58 am

    Well be there for sure.

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