Oktibbeha jury selected for new trial in Chambers murder case

By: 
Faith Lifer
Staff Writer

Fifteen Oktibbeha County residents have been sequestered as jurors for the retrial of a Panola County murder case on Monday.

Of the 15 jurors, three will serve as alternate jurors. 

The retrial comes after the initial jury from Pike County was unable to reach a verdict on the guilt of Quinton Tellis, 30, who faces a charge of capital murder after the burning death of 19-year-old Jessica Chambers, who died of third-degree burns in Panola County in 2014.

The retrial of Tellis is expected to begin Tuesday morning in Panola County with the 12 Oktibbeha jurors and the three Oktibbeha alternates selected Monday.

Oktibbeha County Circuit Clerk Tony Rook said the jury selection process went smoothly Monday.

“I think the entire process seemed to be very efficient and well coordinated,” Rook said. 

Of the 12 jurors, five are black women, four are black men, two are white men and one is a white woman

The three alternate jurors consist of two white women and one white man.

THE JURY SELECTION PROCESS

The jury-selection process began around 9 a.m. Monday morning.

“We initially summoned approximately 300 potential jurors,” Rook said. “Approximately 120 appeared today.”

Rook said of the 120 potential jurors, Panola County Circuit Court Judge Gerald W. Chatham excused all but 62 for personal hardships. 

Chatham sent the remaining 15 jurors home for an hour and a half to pack their bags around 4 p.m. 

“(The jurors) will be transported to Panola County where they will be sequestered for the remainder of the trial,” Rook said.

During the sequestration process, the jurors will stay in a hotel in Panola and will have limited access to anything that could potentially affect their views on the trial.

“Contact will remain limited for the remainder of the trial,” Rook said. “The object is to remain fair and impartial.”

“The decision should be made based on evidence and sworn testimony provided during the trial,” Rook added.

Rook said the retrial in Panola County is expected to last approximately 10 days. 

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