Judge Deliberates in Chemical Attack Trial

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By WSIL Reporter

Updated: Thursday, September 4, 2014, 9:55 p.m.

FRANKLIN COUNTY -- Tessa Leech spent months in a coma after she was set on fire two years ago. Prosecutors say her boyfriend at the time, Christopher Rollins, threw a flammable liquid on her, then lit it. Rollins faced a bench trial in Franklin County Court Thursday.

After both sides presented their arguments Thursday, Judge Tom Tedeschi asked for more time to review the evidence. For the woman at the center of this case, it's hard waiting for a resolution.

As Christopher Rollins was lead into court Thursday for his bench trial, his former girlfriend Tessa Leech looked back on their time together.

"It was like any other relationship. It started out great, but it progressively got worse and I ignored signs and then finally did leave and this happened," said Tessa Leech.

Prosecutors say Rollins doused Leech with a meth-making chemical back on August 20, 2012, then set her on fire.

Video from Rollins initial interview with West Frankfort Police was presented in court. 

Rollins mentioned wanting to burn down his West Frankfort home with Leech inside, but claims he was only joking. He went on to say, he never tried to hurt her and he loved her with all of his heart.

Leech said, "I don't know what he feels. I don't know if he is capable of feeling. He doesn't show any remorse."

Two eyewitnesses and several experts including the state fire marshall, forensic scientists, and Tessa's plastic surgeon took to the stand.

The surgeon said Leech's burns covered more than half of her body.She also had to have several fingers amputated

"It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I had to re-learn how to walk, everything. I was in a coma for about two months. And, I'm still having surgeries," said Leech.

Before reaching a verdict, judge Tedeschi asked for more time to deliberate. But, Leech says she's ready to close this case.

I feel like my whole life's on hold. I feel like I have everything on pause and I can't move onto the next until I can close this," said Leech.

Rollins waived his right to testify in his own defense. The judge is set to announce a verdict in the case on Tuesday. Rollins remains in custody in Franklin County.

 

Original story 

FRANKLIN COUNTY -- A judge is now deliberating the fate of a Franklin County man accused of severely burning his girlfriend. A bench trial was held Thursday for Christopher Rollins.

He's charged with throwing meth making chemicals on his girlfriend Tessa Leach in August, 2012. Prosecutors say he threw the chemicals on Leach at their West Frankfort home, then set her on fire. She was severely burned.

Video from Rollins initial interview with West Frankfort Police was presented in court. In it, Rollins mentioned wanting to burn down his West Frankfort home with Leach inside, but claims he was only joking.

Two eyewitnesses and several experts including the state fire marshall, Tessa's plastic surgeon, and forensic scientists also took the stand today. The Plastic surgeon said she burns covered 58 percent of her body including third degree burns and had amputations to multiple fingers. But after all of the evidence was presented, the judge asked for more time to consider everything.

Meanwhile, Leach hopes for a resolution soon. 

"I feel like my whole life's on hold, I feel like I have everything on pause and I can't move onto the next until I can close this," she said.
 
Rollins waived his right to testify in the case. The judge is now reviewing all of the evidence presented today in the courtroom. He is expected to announce a verdict in court on Tuesday morning.
 
Rollins remains in custody.
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