Jessica Tata Sentenced To Eighty Years For The Death Of Elias Castillo

Jessica Tata, the Houston daycare operator charged in the murder of a child who died in a fire last year, has been sentenced to 80 years in prison.


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A Harris County jury spent parts of two days deliberating the sentence before the verdict today.

She could have been sentenced to life in prison in the death of 16-month old Elias Castillo. He and three other children died in a fire at Tata’s home daycare last year after a pan of cooking oil ignited.

Tata was shopping at a nearby Target when the fire started and the children were home alone. Prosecutor Steve Baldassano says he hopes the sentence sends a strong message.

“We want to make sure the message goes out clear, and I think the jury felt this way, that if any daycare worker, or anybody dealing with the elderly, that they pay attention and they look at this verdict and it changes the way they do things.”

Tata didn’t speak when the judge in the case offered her a chance to say something after the sentence. She’ll be eligible for parole in 30 years.

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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