Suspect in Jessica Chambers Murder Pleads Guilty to Unlawful Use of Credit Card, Will Serve at Least 10 Years in Prison
"He's a dangerous, bad person," the prosecutor says
Quinton Tellis, the man accused in the burning death of 19-year-old Mississippi woman Jessica Chambers, pleaded guilty Thursday to unauthorized use of a credit card, PEOPLE confirms.
Assistant Ouachita Parish District Attorney Neal Johnson tells PEOPLE that because he’s a habitual offender, Tellis, 27, will serve 10 years in prison with no possibility of parole. Tellis has two prior residential burglary convictions in Mississippi, says Johnson, who describes Tellis as “a dangerous, bad person.”
Tellis waived his extradition and will be transferred to Mississippi to face murder charges in Chambers’s death after he is processed by the Louisiana Department of Corrections, Johnson says.
Tellis used the credit card of Meing-Chen Hsiao, 34, a former Taiwanese exchange student who was found dead in August, 2015 with multiple stab wounds, defensive wounds and slicing wounds in her upper back. Johnson says Tellis put approximately $2,300 in charges on the card.
Tellis’s attorney, Randall Donnell, tells PEOPLE: “Given the evidence and circumstances of the case, we worked out a plea agreement that was satisfacton to all parties.”
Donnell adds, “I think he’s a little bit relieved to get this part of it over, but he’s got several serious things over his head.”
Tellis is the prime suspect in Hsaio’s death. Johnson says that he feels “very confident that he did it,” but he says the case is almost entirely circumstantial and he will not prosecute it unless Tellis is found not guilty in Chambers’s death.
“They have a much stronger case over there,” he says. “Ours is almost an entirely circumstantial case – there was a 10-day delay before we found the body.” Johnson added there’s no DNA evidence connecting him to the crime.
Donnell tells PEOPLE, “There have been some things investigated but they haven’t brought any charges yes. They’re mere allegations.”
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Tellis also faces one count of marijuana possession in Louisiana: as part of his plea agreement, this charge was severed from the credit card charge but not dropped. Johnson says a conviction on that charge would send Tellis to prison for the rest of his life because after Thursday’s plea, he already has three felony convictions.
Tellis was charged in February in the December, 2014 death of Chambers more than a year after she was found on fire in her car on a rural road in small-town Courtland, Mississippi.
Tellis was an acquaintance of both Chambers’s and Hsiao’s.
When Tellis was arrested in the Chambers case, Desoto County District Attorney John Champion told reporters, “This was personal against Jessica.” The two grew up in the same neighborhood of Courtland and attended the same high school, Jessica’s stepmother Debbie Chambers told PEOPLE.
But Champion did not release a possible motive in Chambers’s death and Tellis has not yet entered a plea.
Champion says he believes Tellis acted alone. Authorities were able to allegedly place Tellis and Chambers together using cell phone records.