HOUSTON (CBS Houston) Former day care director Jessica Tata began her prison sentence Monday at a Texas prison. Last year, Tata was convicted of murder for a fatal day-care fire.
The remaining eight cases against Tata were dropped by a judge last week. Tata was scheduled to face three other counts of murder, three counts of abandoning a child and two counts of reckless injury to a child. Despite a judge throwing the cases out the District Attorney’s Office has the option to re-file on the murder charges at a later time.
Twenty-four-year-old Tata was convicted of leaving a group of toddlers in a home on Crest Park near Waypark. A pan filled with oil was left on the stove while she went shopping. Surveillance video showed Tata at a Houston area store, shopping for items. The children were left alone with the pan of oil on February 24, 2011. When Tata returned home from her shopping excursion, the day care was engulfed in flames.
Elias Castillo, 16 months, Elizabeth Kojah, 20 months, and Kendyll Stradford, 20 months and Shomari Dickerson, 3 all died in the fire. Three other children were also hurt and in November of 2012, jurors sentenced Tata to 80 years in prison for the death of 16-month-old Elias Castillo.
Tata, who is reportedly appealing her conviction, will have to serve 30 years of her sentence before she is eligible for parole. Tata was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.