Oktibbeha jurors to be called for Chambers murder trial

Quinton Tellis, who is charged with burning 19-year-old Jessica Chambers, to death almost three years ago, sits in a Batesville, Miss., courtroom, in 2017 (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, Pool)

Ryan Phillips

A judge has issued an order for jury selection in a high-profile murder case to be moved to Oktibbeha County.

Panola County Circuit Court Judge Gerald W. Chatham issued the order on Thursday for Oktibbeha County Circuit Clerk Tony Rook to draw a special venire of at least 300 jurors for the second trial of Quinton Tellis, who is charged with capital murder in the December 2014 burning death of 19-year-old Jessica Chambers.

Multiple requests for comment from Panola County District Attorney John Champion, whose office is prosecuting the case, were not returned by press deadline on Thursday. However, Champion has been vocal about his desire to retry the case.

Jurors are to report to the Oktibbeha County Circuit Court building at 8:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 24, unless otherwise directed by the court.

It is unclear at this time if the trial will be moved to Oktibbeha County or if the jury selected will be sent to another location for the trial.

The upcoming trial will be the second time Tellis has been tried for the death of Chambers in a case that has received national attention.

His initial trial last October in Batesville ended in a mistrial when the 12-person jury could not reach an unanimous verdict. Tellis pleaded not guilty to the capital murder charge.

In that trial, the jury was chosen from another county and transported to Panola County.

According to Mississippi Department of Corrections records, Tellis is currently serving a five-year prison sentence at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman for burglary, larceny of an unoccupied dwelling.

In July, Judge Chatham found that there was no misconduct on the part of Champion after attorneys representing Tellis accused him of pressuring a witness to testify to certain details in the case.

Chambers was found on Dec. 6, 2014 by emergency officials walking near her car after being set on fire on a rural road in Courtland. Chambers suffered third-degree burns over most of her body and died shortly after being transported to Memphis for medical treatment.

In addition to the accusations relating to the Chambers case, Tellis is also charged with murder in the August 2016 stabbing death of an exchange student at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

- The Associated Press contributed to this report