Defense to seek leniency in Houston day care fire

Associated Press
Home day care operator Jessica Tata stands before her verdict at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012, in Houston. Tata was convicted of murder in the death of 16-month-old Elias Castillo, one of four children who died in a fire at her home day care after she left them alone with hot oil on the stove while she shopped at Target. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Johnny Hanson)
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HOUSTON (AP) — Defense attorneys are arguing for leniency in the punishment of a Houston woman convicted of murder in a fire at her home day care that killed four children.

Attorneys for Jessica Tata (TAH'-tah) open their case Friday in the punishment phase of her trial. She could be sentenced to up to life in prison for the death of 16-month-old Elias Castillo.

Prosecutors rested their case Thursday. They said the February 2011 fire started after Tata left children alone with a pan of oil on a hot stove while she went shopping. Three other children were injured in the blaze.

Tata's attorneys say she never intended to hurt the children, who ranged in age from 16 months to 3 years old, and that she tried to save them.

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