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911 call audio played in Jessica Tata day care fire murder trial

October 26, 2012 6:09:46 PM PDT
We have the latest developments in the Jessica Tata murder trial. It's been another emotional day in the courtroom with Tata herself breaking down at one point.

Jurors heard her frantic 911 call made from outside her burning home, which also served as a day care. Tata left the seven children home alone while she went shopping and returned to find it on fire, the children trapped inside.

It was the 911 call that had jurors in tears and led to a loud sobbing outburst from accused day care owner Tata. With children crying in the background you could hear Tata telling a 911 operator

"Children are dying. I can't see anything. I can't even get there and get them. I can't see anything. My kids are dying. Please hurry. Oh my God!" Tata said in the 911 call.

Neighbor Geoffrey Deshano testified that minutes before that call he saw Tata screaming for help in the middle of the street saying, "I asked if there was anybody else inside. She told me there was 10 kids."

Deshano went on to testify, "(I heard) a bunch of crying all at one time. It sounded like a roomful of kids, not a room full, but multiple kids; just crying."

He also testified that Tata wrapped a piece of cloth around her arm and broke out a side window, but couldn't get to the children. The neighbor told the jury that a few minutes later after one child walked out of the back door of the burning house. He looked on the side of the house again. He said, "The window that was smashed earlier, there was a kid reaching out. I went there immediately, tried to help, tried to pick him up under his arms."

But Deshano told the jury the smoke was too much, he couldn't breathe, saying, "I dropped him back down."

Store clerk testifies in trial

Testimony is underway again in the murder trial of Jessica Tata, the daycare owner accused in the deadly fire that killed four children.

Today, the state called on witnesses who saw Tata out shopping at Target the day of the fire, while the children were still at her home daycare.

According to court testimony, video was shown to jurors from the Target on Eldridge Parkway. It shows Tata checking out at the register at about 1:20pm.

This morning, former Target employee Ray Menzies testified in court how he talked with Tata following her check-out and was in the process of having her fill out a survey when she told him maybe she didn't have time.

Menzies testified, "She told me that she had grease on the stove and that it was on low and that her sister was with the kids and would it be OK. At that point, the survey wasn't important."

"Why'd you tell her that?" asked the prosecutor.

"Her sister was asleep. The kids were at home. The survey was secondary," said Menzies.

Menzies was also asked about Tata's demeanor. He didn't say a lot about it, but did say she wasn't frantic. She did walk at a face past, though, he said.

Yesterday, jurors viewed video of children playing at Tata's day care just hours before the fire.

Prosecutors say Tata left oil burning on the stove when she left seven chilren alone while she ran errands.

Yesterday prosecutors showed video which Tata recorded the day of the fire. In the video you can see the four toddlers who died later that day playing happily.

Prosecutors also showed surveillance video from a Walmart and Target where Tata shopped, while the children were at her house alone.

"She was in the building for 5 to 10 minutes and she was in no hurry to leave the building at all,"said prosecution witness, former Walmart employee, Brian Smith. "I think it's real sad. I feel for the parents."

Tata is charged with one count of felony murder, three counts of abandoning a child and two counts of reckless injury to a child. She faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Stay with Eyewitness News for the latest on the Jessica Tata trial.


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