September 5, 2022

17th Circuit Court District Attorney John Champion dies at 61

Therese Apel

District Attorney John Champion

Early Sunday, 17th Circuit Court District Attorney John Champion passed away at age 61.

Champion’s eistrict includes DeSoto, Panola, Tallahatchie, Tate and Yalobusha counties. Governor Tate Reeves will now appoint a successor.

North Mississippi and the legal community alike expressed their grief on social media Sunday and Monday. Senator Michael McLendon wrote on his Facebook that Champion “has helped make our County safe by convicting those who took advantage of victims, then saw to it that the sentences the Judges gave kept their meaning.”

The 17th District was set to be split in January 2023, with former Assistant District Attorney Jay Hale, now with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, to take the reins in Panola, Tallhatchie, Tate and Yalobusha counties while Champion would have prosecuted cases in DeSoto County.

“I am deeply saddened for such a great man. I had the opportunity to work with Mr. Champion and he will be sorely missed,” commented Peggy Waddell on a post by DeSoto County Government. “Prayers go out to his family.”

Champion had garnered national attention in recent years from the Jessica Chambers case. A 19-year-old Courtland woman was burned alive, and Champion led the prosecution against her accused killer, Quinton Tellis, in two separate cases. Both resulted in hung juries.

Champion was elected District Attorney in the 17th Circuit in November 2001. He was hired Assistant District Attorney in 1993 by former District Attorney Bobby Williams after his 1992 graduation from the University of Mississippi. He continued to be an avid fan of his Alma Mater until his death.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced. We will update when they are available.

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