Sentencing hearing starts in day care fire case

JUAN A. LOZANO Associated Press Published:

HOUSTON (AP) -- A sentencing hearing has begun for a Houston woman convicted of felony murder after four unattended children died in a fire at her home day care.

Jessica Tata could receive life in prison for the February 2011 death of 16-month-old Elias Castillo. Authorities say the 24-year-old Tata left Elias and six other children unsupervised while she went to a nearby Target store.

The fire started when oil ignited in a pan atop a stovetop burner. Three other children were seriously injured.

A jury convicted Tata Tuesday after nearly a day of deliberations.

Defense attorney Mike DeGeurin says Tata has "never lost sight of the real victims" in the fire.

Prosecutors did not indicate whether they will seek a life sentence.