Jessica Tata appeals murder conviction

Published On: Nov 29 2012 05:27:24 PM CST
Jessica Tata
HOUSTON -

Jessica Tata has informed a judge that she intends to appeal her murder conviction.

The former day-care owner was sentenced to 80 years in prison after she was found guilty of felony murder.

Tata, 24, left a group of children in a home on Crest Park near Waypark alone with a pan of grease heating on a stove while she went shopping on Feb. 24, 2011. When she got home, the house was on fire. Elias Castillo, 16 months, Shomari Dickerson, 3, Elizabeth Kojah, 20 months, and Kendyll Stradford, 20 months, all died in the fire. Three other children were hurt. Tata was convicted of Elias' murder.

Tata, who was represented in the criminal trial by attorney Dick DeGeurin, will be using a court-appointed attorney for her appeal.

KPRC Local 2 legal analyst Brian Wice said her chances of winning that are not good.

"Traditionally, the defendant has a 4 to 5 percent chance of prevailing on appeal in a non-death-penalty case," Wice said.

Wice said he expects that the basis of Tata's appeal will be insufficient evidence.

Surveillance cameras at a Target store captured images of Tata shopping there at the time the fire started. Jurors saw that video.

Tata faces three additional counts of murder, three counts of abandoning a child and two counts of reckless injury to a child. Prosecutors said Tata may be tried on the murder charges despite her conviction.

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Images: Day care fire

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