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Jury deliberates in Jessica Tata trial

Nov. 12, 2012 at 6:01 PM   |   Comments

HOUSTON, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- The murder trial of Jessica Tata, whose Houston daycare center was the scene of a fire that killed four toddlers, has been given to the jury, attorneys said.

Closing arguments were completed Monday, with defense attorney Mike DeGuerin suggesting a broken safety switch in a refrigerator could have caused the 2011 fire, The Houston Chronicle reported.

Prosecutors scoffed at the idea, saying Tata, 24, was "multi-tasking" by leaving seven children, between the ages of 15 months and 3 years, unattended while oil was heating on a stove and she was away shopping.

"To say that the refrigerator spontaneously combusted at the same time she left the house while she had oil on a burner and perishable food next to it? That's crazy," said prosecutor Steve Baldassano.

Jurors were sent to deliberate the case after both sides spent an hour each concluding their cases, the newspaper said, adding she could be found guilty of murder with a deadly weapon, which could mean a life sentence, or a lower-level felony with a maximum sentence of two years.

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