The burning death of Jessica Chambers happened almost four years ago, and in that time several names have been key both during the homicide investigation and in the legal proceedings.
Chambers was set on fire in a small Mississippi town. The man accused of killing her, is on trial for her death after a mistrial was declared at the first trial.
Here are the people you need to watch.
1. Jessica Chambers
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The Panola County teen was found burned alive on Herron Road in Courtland in December 2014. Multiple first responders at the scene have testified they believed they heard her say that “Eric” was the one who set her on fire. Chambers had been friends with the defendant Quinton Tellis for a few days to two weeks, and had ridden around with him a few times that day.
2. Quinton Tellis
Tellis is the suspect on trial for the second time in Chambers’ death. He had just gotten out of prison on parole in October 2014, and lived across the street from the M&M gas station, where he and Chambers met and socialized. Tellis is serving a 10-year sentence in Louisiana for the fraudulent use of credit cards belonging to a woman he is also charged with killing. That case has not been tried.
3. District Attorney John Champion and Assistant District Attorney Jay Hale
The prosecution team since Day 1 of the case. Champion has been DA in Panola County since he was appointed in 2001. Both men are from Senatobia.
4. Defense attorneys Darla Palmer and Alton Peterson
Palmer and Peterson are both veteran attorneys from Jackson. Palmer was retained by Tellis’ family and brought Peterson on as co-counsel. The two seem to have come back to the second trial more willing to attack the darker aspects of the victim’s life.
5. Panola County Sheriff Dennis Darby
Under the leadership of Darby, all hands were on deck when Chambers’ death occurred. Maj. Barry Thompson was appointed lead investigator of the local aspects of the case as the search widened for Jessica’s killer.
6. Eric / Derrick?
Given that first responders told officials they thought they heard Chambers say the name Eric, a large part of the beginning of the investigation was dedicated to finding as many Erics and Derricks as possible. Officials tracked down contacts from Chambers’ phone as well as friends of friends and others in the neighborhood, coming up empty every time.
7. Kesha Meyer
Jessica’s best friend, provided key information on Jessica’s movements on her last day. Kesha was introduced to Tellis by Chambers, and said Jessica never called his name. It wasn’t clear, she said, what Jessica called him, whether by his first or last name.
8. MBI Investigator Tim Douglas, ATF Special Agent Scott Meadows and U.S. attorney’s office analyst Paul Rowlett
This team of state and federal investigators were left standing as the hundreds of other agents and officers started to drift back to their daily jobs. Douglas, Meadows and Rowlett were the ones who were finally able to reassess the case when all the leads ran dry, tracing data and video evidence and doing interviews when the cellphone locator data finally came in during a lengthy wait. During their interviews with Tellis, the suspect changed his story several times, finally admitting to being with Chambers just minutes before she died.
9. Lisa Daugherty and Ben Chambers
Jessica’s parents’ pain has been central to the story of her death. Daugherty testified first on Tuesday, and like last year, was a very sympathetic witness as she talked about losing her daughter. Throughout the trial, Ben Chambers has been unafraid to show his emotional side, giving those watching more of an opportunity to feel his emotions first hand.
10. Daniel Cole, Cole Haley, Jody Morris, Seth Cook
Local first responders who were on the scene the night Jessica Chambers was burned alive. They filed reports almost immediately after the incident, which is unusual in such a traumatic situation. Both Haley and Cole said they would have waited to write the report after processing what they had seen if given the chance.
11. Dr. Carolyn Higdon
A speech pathologist and expert witness, Carolyn Higdon testified to Chambers’ level of burns and the physiological inability for the human body to speak clearly in that state.
12. The jury
The jury, chosen from a pool of potential jurors in Oktibbeha County, as of Tuesday consists of nine black members and three white members. The three alternates are white. They are older on average than the jury in last year’s trial, which consisted of five white and seven black members. How they process the testimony and evidence will determine if the trial ends in a verdict or another mistrial.