Both sides rest in deadly day care fire trial

November 8, 2012 2:53:59 PM PST
Testimony is completed in the Jessica Tata murder trial. Tata is the woman who was out shopping when her home day care caught fire, killing four children and injuring three more.

Both sides have now rested. The defense did so without having Tata take the stand on her own behalf. But prosecutors brought forward two witnesses before concluding their case Thursday afternoon.

Tata sat silent in the courtroom as her defense team rested its case. Prosecutors allege Tata left seven children unsupervised and went shopping when her home day care burned down in February 2011. Four of those children died in the fire and Tata is now charged with felony murder.

"She's doing well. There's a lot of introspection, but she's doing OK," said defense attorney Mike DeGuerin.

Much of the trial has focused on the stove. Prosecutors call it a murder weapon. Their expert witness alleges Tata left it on high heat with a pot of vegetable oil on the front burner, sparking the fire.

But the defense's expert witness says the stove may not have been on at all, but it may have malfunctioned and started the fire on its own. The defense claims Tata had recently been having trouble with her refrigerator and the fire may have started there.

On Thursday, an investigator testified that Tata told her she left the stove on, saying, "She stated she left a pan of oil on. She grabbed the keys and went through the back door."

Prosecutors also presented a letter from a repairman who worked at Tata's day care. The repairman claims that while he was working there, he saw Tata leave at least one child unsupervised for an extended period of time, saying, "He was bothered. The little boy was allowed to come into the bathroom with a stranger."

Jurors have been sent home for the day. On Friday, attorneys will draft the jury instructions, then on Monday jurors will hear closing arguments.

The judge has already said jurors will not be allowed to go home until they reach a verdict.


Load Comments