Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Jessica Chambers murder trial

Jessica Chambers murder trial

Several firefighters testified Tuesday and Wednesday in the trial of Quinton Tellis in Batesville, Mississippi, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Memphis, Tennessee.

But a defence attorney said Jessica Chambers told firefighters who found her near her burning auto that a man named Eric set her on fire - not the person charged with her murder, Quinton Tellis.

A longtime firefighter said Wednesday he had never seen a victim so badly burned when he found a young MS woman lying on the ground - barely able to sleep with blisters covering her body - before she died after being intentionally set on fire. "She was trying to tell us who she was", said Davis. The teenager, who had been doused with a flammable liquid and set ablaze, was found lying next to her burning vehicle. The prosecutor also said Tellis' alibi was fabricated.

Thinking he succeeded, Tellis then doused Jessica's auto with gasoline and set both it and her on fire, the district attorney alleged.

"I think he suffocated her", Champion said.

He said Chambers and Tellis had only known each other for a short time before she was burned to death on a backroad in the rural community of Courtland.

Tellis, 29, could face life in prison without parole if convicted of capital murder.

Prosecutor John Champion told jurors that they will see graphic photos of a burned Chambers and they will hear from about 35 witnesses.

Defense attorney Darla Palmer's questioning Wednesday with first responders was spent going through their written statements, which were from 12 hours to two days after the incident and before Tellis was named a person of interest. "I asked, 'Who did this to you?' She replied, 'Eric.' I asked again, 'Baby girl who did this?' and she replied, 'Eric, '" Davis said, reading his statement in court. "You look at it at the time, her hair is just fried". Chambers later left home, and then called Daugherty to say she was getting something to eat.

"He insisted this is not something he would do", Palmer said.

First responder Cole Haley, Chief of Courtland Fire Department, recalled arriving at the scene.

Tellis faces another murder indictment in Louisiana, where he's accused in the torture death of Meing-Chen Hsiao, a 34-year-old Taiwanese graduate student at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Authorities analyzed over 20,000 telephone numbers as part of the investigation and 40 people are listed in court documents as potential witnesses in the trial, WREG reported. A trial date in Louisiana is pending the outcome of his trial in Mississippi.

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