Sentencing hearing starts in day care fire case

Associated Press
File - In this Nov. 12, 2012 file photo, home day care operator Jessica Tata, left, and her attorney Mike DeGeurin  listen to the closing arguments in her murder trial for the death of 16-month-old day care fire victim, Elias Castillo, at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center, in Houston.  Tata has been found guilty of murder in the death of one of four children killed in a fire at her home day care in Houston.   (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Johnny Hanson, File)
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File - In this Nov. 12, 2012 file photo, home day care operator Jessica Tata, left, and her attorney Mike DeGeurin listen to the closing arguments in her murder trial for the death of 16-month-old day care fire victim, Elias Castillo, at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center, in Houston. Tata has been found guilty of murder in the death of one of four children killed in a fire at her home day care in Houston. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Johnny Hanson, File)

HOUSTON (AP) — A sentencing hearing has begun for a Houston woman convicted of felony murder after four unattended children died in a fire at her home day care.

Jessica Tata could receive life in prison for the February 2011 death of 16-month-old Elias Castillo. Authorities say the 24-year-old Tata left Elias and six other children unsupervised while she went to a nearby Target store.

The fire started when oil ignited in a pan atop a stovetop burner. Three other children were seriously injured.

A jury convicted Tata Tuesday after nearly a day of deliberations.

Defense attorney Mike DeGeurin says Tata has "never lost sight of the real victims" in the fire.

Prosecutors did not indicate whether they will seek a life sentence.

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