Testimony Wraps In Day Care Fire Trial

Prosecutors allege Jessica Tata had left hot cooking oil heating on a stove at her west Houston day care center last year, leaving the children alone to go shopping at a Target. She returned to find the building in smoke.

The blaze killed four children and injured three others. The only defense witness — an engineering expert — testified that he believes the stove was off during the fire and a refrigerator could have caused the blaze. He also testified that the stove could have malfunctioned, telling jurors that a switch on that Electrolux range has a history of complaints including going from low to high and turning on by itself.

Prosecutors presented rebuttal witnesses, including an expert who said the stove was on and a state investigator who said Tata admitted leaving the pan on the stove. Closing arguments are set for Monday.

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