New cell phone video shown in Jessica Tata day care fire murder trial

October 29, 2012 3:23:11 PM PDT
New video was shown in court Monday during Jessica Tata's murder trial. The cell phone video is from a neighbor who says he tried to help the children trapped inside Tata's home by the intense smoke and fire.

"How many were inside?" a witness says in the video.

"There are nine. I got two out," says a voice.

The witness says that's Jessica Tata's voice, frantic as firefighters rush into her home day care trying to save the young children inside.

Four young children died and three were injured in this fire in February 2011. Prosecutors allege Tata left them unsupervised and went shopping while leaving the stove on.

"I was just getting home. She's standing in the middle of the street screaming and there's smoke," said Christian Wendenburg.

He is the neighbor you're hearing -- the one who took this cell phone video.

On Monday, Wendenburg described Tata's reaction to the fire, saying, "She's screaming frantically that there are children inside."

Another neighbor, Sandra Sawyer, told the court she tried to comfort Tata as the day care was in flames.

Sawyer's voice could be heard in the video as she tried to figure out how many kids were missing. She testified that she's the one who called the kids' parents because Tata was too distraught to do so.

She says she asked Tata how the fire started, saying, "All she would volunteer is that when she came out of the bathroom and came to the front door it was on fire."

But Sawyer testified that Tata didn't look like she had been inside the burning day care.

"Well, the children were all black and their clothes were all black and dirty and Jessica was not. She did not smell like smoke and she did not look like she had been exposed to smoke like they had," Sawyer testified.

The trial is finished for the day and will resume Tuesday morning.

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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