Bond reduction denied for day care owner
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Day care owner Jessica Tata is charged with murder for the February deaths of four children in a fire at her home. New information came out Friday during a bond hearing and it's been very difficult at times for those who are in the courtroom.Tata was trying to get her $1.1 million bond reduced so she can get out of jail. During the hearing, Tata's attorney argued the bonds are illegally excessive and should be reduced to $50,000. However, a judge ruled late Friday afternoon that Tata's bond would not be reduced. Included in Friday's court hearing were witnesses and evidence, but the most chilling moment was the 911 call Tata made from the burning home day care that day in February, in which you could hear children screaming. Tata could be heard saying, "They're dying! I can't see anything. I can't see them. Oh my gosh. Come here! I can't see them. They're all babies. "Please hurry. They're everywhere. I'm coming. Come here. Please help me...My babies are here. I'm here. Oh my gosh, they're burning! The kids are all dying. "What do I do? They're babies! Won't they die from the smoke?" Tata screams.
Then the call ends.Afterwards, the children's families left the courtroom. The mother of victim Elias Castillo was inconsolable. "They want her to receive her punishment, but they feel in order for them to move forward that they have to forgive her. But they still want justice," said a family's attorney. After a day of testimony, the decision came down to three words: Bond reduction denied. "I'm happy. She ain't going nowhere. Everything is in God's hands and God has everything covered," said Keshia Brown, mother of one of the victims. Tata will remain in jail on nine charges related to the Feb. 24 fire that also injured three children. Authorities believe the 23-year-old left all seven children in her care alone while she went shopping, and the fire was ignited by a stove-top burner that was left on. Details emerge of Tata's flight to Nigeria For every life lost and every child injured, there was a family member in court. And there was Tata, wearing handcuffs and her hair cropped short. Friday's bond reduction hearing revealed evidence that will be part of the trial, starting with her flight to Nigeria. An officer with the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force testified, saying that Tata took a Delta flight from Dallas to Lagos, Nigeria, on February 26 with a possible return flight on March 18. Tata claims she turned herself in, but that officer testified she was tracked to her father's compound, that he told Interpol where to find her, and she was taken into custody. Flight risk is why the state opposes her release on bond, as do the families of the four children who died in the fire in February. "They believe in the system. They want to see this system have a chance, to have an opportunity to do what we all feel should be done and what it will do eventually," said one of the victim's attorneys. The prosecution painted Tata as deceptive from the start, beginning at the hospital the night of the fire. On the stand Friday, HFD fire investigator Dorian Green testified.
- Green: She stated she was in shock and didn't know why she was in the hospital.
Prosecutor: Was there any evidence she was in shock?
Green: Personally, no.
- Green: You're in shock from what?
Tata: I don't know.
Green: Do you know about an incident at a Houston day care?
Tata: Someone said something about it, but I don't know anything. They won't tell me why I'm here (at hospital).
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