(BATESVILLE, Miss.) — The night a 19-year-old Mississippi woman was burned to death, she and her killer had sex in her car and he thought he had suffocated her before he torched her vehicle with her inside, a prosecutor said Tuesday in an opening statement, presenting his theory of what led to the gruesome slaying.
But a defense attorney said Jessica Chambers told firefighters who found her near her burning car that a man named Eric set her on fire — not the person charged with her murder, Quinton Tellis.
Tellis’ trial began in Batesville, Mississippi, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Memphis, Tennessee. Tellis, 29, could face life in prison without parole if convicted of capital murder.
The horrific circumstances surrounding the former high school cheerleader’s death garnered national attention. Security is tight — the jury is being sequestered and spectators are being screened through metal detectors before entering the courtroom.
Prosecutor John Champion told jurors that they will