By ROBERT LEE LONG
District Attorney John Champion said Monday he feels vindicated now that a judge has sided with him and the prosecution in a matter related to the Quinton Tellis murder trial in the death of Jessica Chambers in 2014.
A judge has ruled that the court could find no evidence of misconduct on behalf of Champion.
A defense attorney alleged that Champion pressured a witness to testify that Chambers called Tellis by the name "Eric" — a name she used to identify her attacker to paramedics and emergency personnel shortly before she died.
The identity of the killer was among key questions that led to a "hung jury" in Tellis' trial. That case is set to be retried on Sept. 24 before a jury pool in Starkville.
Chambers was burned alive along a rural road in Panola County in 2014.
According to news partner, Action News 5, Champion spoke with a witness, Jalen Caudle, while preparing for a retrial.
In court documents filed last week, Tellis' attorney, Darla Palmer, says Champion tried to pressure Caudle into testifying that the victim, Chambers, used to call Tellis "Eric." According to Palmer, Champion promised to get Caudle a public defender friend if he cooperated.
"Because of that meeting, Palmer levied misconduct and ethical violation accusations against Champion," stated the WMC-TV report.
In an interview with the DeSoto Times-Tribune on Monday, Champion said he made it clear to Caudle that he "was not there to talk about his case."
"I do feel relieved," Champion said. "I've known all along I didn't do anything wrong. I researched the rules prior to going over there and talking with him (Caudle). I will present the same case that we presented before and we will proceed for trial which is set for Sept. 24."
"[I've heard] no misconduct that would prejudice Mr. Tellis' case...whether there has been professional misconduct is really not for me to decide," the judge said in the transcript of the court proceeding.
The retrial of Quinton Tellis is scheduled to begin September 24 with jury selection and testimony in the highly-charged and emotional case.
Chambers was doused with a flammable liquid and set on fire. Her body was found near her burning vehicle. She was barely conscious and died a short time later.