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BATESVILLE, Miss. – The Latest on the trial of a man charged with burning to death a 19-year-old Mississippi woman (all times local):
A doctor says a 19-year-old woman who was found alive with severe burns in Mississippi but later died from her injuries suffered so much damage to her mouth, throat and chest that she would have had trouble clearly saying words.
Dr. William Hickerson testified as an expert witness Thursday in the capital murder trial of Quinton Tellis in Batesville, Mississippi, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Memphis, Tennessee. Prosecutors say Tellis set Chambers and her car on fire and left her to die along a back road in Courtland, Mississippi, in December 2014.
Firefighters who treated a severely burned Chambers on the scene said they heard her say that someone named Eric or Derek set her on fire. Defense attorney Darla Palmer contends that Chambers’ statements show Tellis is falsely accused in the case.
Hickerson testified that Chambers had third-degree burns on most of her body. He said the scorched skin on her chest became tight like leather and she could not speak correctly due to a lack of air.
A jury in the trial of a man charged with setting a 19-year-old Mississippi woman on fire and leaving her to die along a rural road has visited the road and other key locations in the case.
Prosecutors say Quinton Tellis set Jessica Chambers’ car on fire near a tree farm in Courtland on Dec. 6, 2014. A passing motorist saw Chambers walking down the road and called authorities.
Emergency personnel responded and treated Chambers, who had burns on most of her body. She died at a hospital.
The 29-year-old Tellis faces a murder charge. His lawyer says he has been falsely accused. The 15-person jury visited eight important locations in the investigation Thursday, the trial’s third day.
A jury in the trial of a man charged with setting a 19-year-old Mississippi woman on fire and leaving her to die along a rural back road is scheduled to visit the crime scene in the case.
Prosecutors say Quinton Tellis set Jessica Chambers’ car on fire near a tree farm in Courtland, Mississippi, on Dec. 6, 2014. A passing motorist saw Chambers walking down the road and called 911.
Emergency personnel responded to the scene and treated Chambers, who had burns on most of her body. She died at a hospital.
The 29-year-old Tellis is on trial on a murder charge in Batesville, Mississippi. His lawyer says he’s falsely accused. The jury is scheduled to visit important locations in the investigation Thursday, the trial’s third day.
SONOMA, Calif. – The Latest on wildfires in California (all times local):
California’s deadly wildfires have claimed the home of ‘Peanuts’ creator Charles Schulz but his widow has escaped the flames.
Schulz’s son, Monte Schulz, says a fire on Monday torched the Santa Rosa homes of his stepmother, 78-year-old Jean Schulz, and his brother, Craig Schulz.
She’s staying with other relatives.
Schulz says he’s been told the home where his famous cartoonist father died and all the memorabilia in it are gone.
However, most of his father’s original artwork is in the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, and so far that’s escaped the flames.
Authorities in Northern California say at least four people were killed by a wildfire burning in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills, bringing the state’s death toll to 29.
Yuba County Sheriff Steve Durfor confirmed Thursday that the four have died since a blaze ignited there Sunday night.
The fire is burning 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of several blazes in wine country that also broke out Sunday night and that have killed 25 people.
The blaze in the foothills has destroyed more than 100 homes and displaced 2,500 people.
Fire officials say it has charred 16 square miles (41 square kilometers) but fire crews overnight made significant progress and it’s 45 percent contained.
Officials say progress is being made in some of the largest wildfires burning in Northern California but that the death toll is almost sure to surge.
Fire Chief Ken Pimlott says the number of dead is 26 as of Thursday.
Pimlott says crews have made significant progress against blazes in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and they’re being redirected to wine country.
He says the fires blackening California’s wine country are threatening dozens of communities and larger cities and that erratic wind gusts are expected in the area starting Friday.
More than 8,000 firefighters are battling the blazes and additional manpower and equipment was pouring in from across the country and as far as Australia and Canada.
California fire officials are investigating downed power lines and other utility equipment failures as possible causes of massive wildfires sweeping through wine country.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokeswoman Janet Upton says it’s unclear if downed power lines and live wires resulted from fires or started them.
She said Thursday that investigators are looking into that and other possible causes.
Jennifer Robison of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. says the utility is focused on restoring power and maintaining safety. She says they will not speculate about the causes of the fires.
She says PG&E will support reviews by any regulator or agency.
Officials say recovery teams, some with cadaver dogs, will start searching for bodies in some areas devastated by wildfires raging in California wine country.
Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano says officials are investigating hundreds of reports of missing people and that recovery teams will start doing targeted searches for bodies Thursday. He warns that identification may be difficult and take some time.
He says officials have found some bodies almost completely intact but other remains are “nothing more than ash and bones.”
Giordano says at least 14 people have been killed Sonoma County, raising the death toll to 24.
One of the California counties hard hit by wildfires this week chose not to use one type of emergency alert service to warn residents of possible danger.
Spokeswoman Jennifer Larocque says Sonoma County considered but did not use the Wireless Emergency Alert which sends a widespread message to cell phones and is sometimes likened to an Amber Alert.
Larocque says because of its broad reach officials concluded the message could panic people who were not in danger and trigger unnecessary evacuations that would snarl traffic and delay emergency vehicles.
Sonoma County did use another emergency alert service that texted thousands of warnings to residents to flee Sunday night. However, nearly 80 cellphone towers were knocked out or badly damaged.
Officials say fire crews have made progress on one of 22 fires burning in Northern California.
Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant said Thursday a blaze burning in Napa and Sonoma Counties is 10 percent contained.
But he warns that potential gusty winds forecast to hit the area later in the day could hamper firefighting efforts.
Blazes burning in three other Northern California counties have killed 10 people.
Entire cities have evacuated in anticipation of the next round of flames, their streets empty and the only motion coming from ashes falling like snowflakes.
A fire official says blazes burning in Northern California grew a bit overnight but it was not as dramatic as prior days.
However, that could change Thursday as winds gusting to 45 mph (72 kph) and dry air are expected to pummel areas north of San Francisco where at least 23 people have died and at least 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Scott McLean told Oakland television station KTVU that winds were calm early Thursday and firefighters had made some gains overnight.
Thousands of firefighters are battling at least 22 fires spanning more than 265 square miles (686 square kilometers) for a fourth day.
Officials believe at least 111 rural homes have been destroyed in a wildfire that is chewing through brush and timber on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada in California.
It’s one of more than 20 deadly and destructive fires burning across California.
Yuba County spokesman Russ Brown said Thursday that damage estimates are preliminary and crews have had a hard time getting into mountain communities to survey burn areas.
Brown says overnight winds lessened somewhat, giving firefighters an edge as they beat back the fire that broke out Sunday north of Sacramento.
The blaze that has consumed nearly 19 square miles (49 square kilometers) was 20 percent contained Wednesday night.
At least 23 people have died and thousands of homes have been destroyed in other fires north of San Francisco.
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CAIRO – The Latest on the reconciliation deal reached by rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah in Cairo-hosted negotiations (all times local):
Palestinian negotiators from rival Hamas and Fatah factions have signed a reconciliation deal at a short ceremony in Cairo.
Thursday’s signing came after two days of negotiations in the Egyptian capital on the governing of the Gaza Strip as part of the most serious effort to date to end the 10 year rift between the rival Palestinian groups.
Egyptian chief of intelligence, Khalid Fawzi, presided over the signing as Hamas’ representative, Saleh al-Arouri, and Fatah’s negotiator, Azzam al-Ahmed, signed on.
Al-Ahmed told reporters after the ceremony that there has been “full agreement” to empower a national unity government to assume its full authorities in Gaza.
The leader of Hamas says his group has reached an agreement with the rival Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after Egyptian-brokered talks about the terms of control of the Gaza Strip.
Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement that details would be announced in Cairo later on Thursday.
The Islamic militant Hamas evicted Abbas’ Western-backed Palestinian Authority from Gaza a decade ago, leading to a crippling territorial and political split among Palestinians. Abbas oversees autonomous enclaves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Hamas and Fatah officials held two days of talks in Cairo this week about a Palestinian Authority return to Gaza.
Repeated reconciliation attempts have failed since 2007.
Sticking points include control over the arsenal of Hamas’ armed wing and the fate of thousands of Hamas public servants.
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