New day care fire photos introduced in Tata trial


It was February 24, 2011. Chaos erupted as a west Houston day care went up in flames. Owner Jessica Tata was in apparent anguish as four kids died and three were injured.

Prosecutors allege Tata left the kids unsupervised to go shopping.

Jurors got a look Thursday at what arson investigators found in the day care when the smoke cleared.

Investigator Thomas Wood showed jurors the kitchen stove where he says the fire started.

"The heat radiated up from the frying pan to the refrigerator and radiated back to the wooden cabinets," Wood said.

Wood ruled the fire as accidental, blaming oil left burning in a frying pan. He described Thursday how firefighters found the children. He said one was hiding under a table in the dining room. Two others were in their cribs.

"It doesn't take much to visualize the children trapped there with the fires burning and them having no idea what to do or how to escape," KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy said.

Androphy said Thursday's testimony isn't so much about finding Tata guilty or not guilty. It's about appealing to the emotion of the jury.

"She was extremely reckless and children suffered. That's indisputable. Even the defense can't contest that," Androphy said. "The only thing they can contest is the fact, if they have evidence, that this was an isolated matter in her life and she is normally a very good person."

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