Man charged with setting woman on fire offered alibi

BATESVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A man charged with burning to death a Mississippi woman told an FBI agent he was miles away buying a debit card when she was set on fire.

The agent, Dustin Blount, testified Thursday in the trial of Quinton Tellis in Batesville, Mississippi. Tellis has pleaded not guilty to killing 19-year-old Jessica Chambers in December 2014.

Prosecutors say Tellis thought he suffocated Chambers during sex in her car, and then used gasoline to set her and the vehicle ablaze along a road in Courtland.

Blount said Tellis told him during an interview that he was returning to his Courtland home from buying the card in Batesville when he saw vehicles with emergency lights. He also said Tellis acknowledged having sex with Chambers once, but he didn’t mention an exact date.

Tellis, who was friends with Chambers, could receive life in prison without parole if convicted of capital murder at trial in Batesville, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Memphis. A firefighter has testified a severely-burned Chambers looked like a zombie as she walked down the road near her burning car the evening of Dec. 6, 2014. She died hours later at a Memphis hospital.

His lawyer says he’s falsely accused. Firefighters who treated Chambers testified they heard her say someone named Eric or Derek set her on fire. Prosecutors say she could have been trying to say Tellis, but damage to her mouth and throat didn’t allow her to speak clearly.

Agent Blount said a photo taken from a surveillance video from a Fred’s pharmacy shows Tellis, who had a dirt bike, buying a pre-paid debit card in Batesville, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the tree-lined road embankment in Courtland where her car was found. The photo had a time stamp of 8:26 p.m.

Authorities say Chambers was found on the road by a passing motorist shortly after 8 p.m. Prosecutors contend Tellis, 29, has lied about his whereabouts that night. Blount said Tellis told him he found out about Chambers’ situation from someone at a…

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