Jury hears audiotape of investigators interviewing Jessica Tata after deadly day care fire

October 31, 2012 2:48:29 PM PDT
In her own words for the first time, the jury in Jessica Tata's murder trial heard from her, not on the stand, but from the first interview she gave to investigators shortly after the fire that killed four young children and seriously injured three others.

We don't know at this point whether or not Tata will take the stand in her defense, so this may be the only time jurors hear her voice.

"I don't want to be here. I don't know what's wrong. All I know is that my heart is racing. No one's telling me anything," Tata said in the audio recording.

The recording is of Tata as investigators interviewed her on the night her home day care burned down in February 2011. Four young children died and three were injured in the fire. Prosecutors allege Tata left the kids unsupervised to go shopping.

Investigator: When I spoke with you at the fire scene, you kind of gave me a brief account of what happened. You don't remember that?
Tata: I don't even remember speaking with you.

In the interview, Tata claims she can't remember her address, phone number or job.

Investigator: Whose day care is that?
Tata: What day care?
Investigator: Where you work at.
Tata: I don't know.

The investigator on the recording testified Wednesday that Tata was speaking coherently to paramedics as the day care was burning down. A nurse who treated Tata that night testified that Tata was with her family moments before the interview, saying, "They were talking, chatting, laughing; normal family conversation."

"To become traumatized only when the police are interviewing you is contrived and it's fake and jurors pick up those things very easily," said KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy.

He says this audio tape makes Tata seem uncooperative and uncaring.

"I use the word monster because that's the proportions that this case is getting to," Androphy said.

Investigator: What did you do today?
Tata: I threw up.

We have the entire interview between the investigators and Tata posted here if you'd like to hear it for yourself.

The jury has been sent home for the day and testimony will resume Thursday morning.

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

Earlier Wednesday

Testimony resumed Wednesday morning in the murder trial of Jessica Tata. She's accused in the deaths of four children who were killed in a fire at her home day care last year after she left the children unsupervised and left a pot of oil burning on the stove while she ran errands.

The court released an audiotape of Houston Fire Department investigators' initial interview with Tata. We obtained a copy of that interview already played for jurors of Tata's conversation with investigators on the evening of the fire in February 2011. The following is an excerpt:

Investigator: There was an incident that happened today at the day care center where you work and we're just trying to find out what happened. OK?
Tata: I don't remember. All I know is my heart is racing and I'm dizzy.

Investigator: Do you know why you're in the hospital?
Tata: That's what they won't tell me. Ask the nurses. I've been asking them. I don't want to be here. I don't know what's wrong. All I know is that my heart is racing. No one's telling me anything.

Over the course of about 12 minutes, Tata told two HFD investigators repeatedly that she didn't know what was going on and didn't know why she was in the hospital.

Also during Wednesday morning's testimony, a nurse from the ER that night says she observed Tata sitting up, talking with family, even laughing, and didn't see any signs of distress.

On Tuesday firefighters testified that they broke safety procedures searching for two children Tata told them were in the house, but who weren't actually there.


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