Emotional grandmother of child killed in day care fire braces herself for Tata trial

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by Drew Karedes / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on October 15, 2012 at 11:32 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 16 at 11:07 AM

HOUSTON -- The woman who ran a day care where four toddlers died in a fire was in court Monday.

Jessica Tata's attorneys are trying to get some statements and evidence tossed out before jury selection begins Friday in her murder trial.

According to defense attorneys, investigators did not have proper permission to search Tata’s home following the Feb. 24, 2011 tragedy.

Investigators said Tata left a pot of oil burning on the stove at her West Houston day care while she went shopping. The house went up in flames and seven children were trapped. Elias Castillo, Elizabeth Kojah, Kendyll Stradford and Shomari Dickerson died in the blaze and three other children were injured.

Families who are still reeling from their losses are now preparing to face Tata in a courtroom.

Shomari Dickerson’s grandmother doubts she’ll ever hear the apology she’s been longing for.

"She's never taken ownership and said, 'I am truly sorry for taking those children's lives.'That's what I want. I want her to say I am sorry for taking [my] grandson's life,” cried Tracy Storms. "She hasn't told us why she did it. Why couldn't she have somebody come over and sit with those kids?”

Storms said it’s not just the lives lost, but also the lives forever changed. Her granddaughter MaKayla survived the day care fire, but was badly burned. She's had several skin grafts and is scarred for life.

"Kids are never going to look at her the same. They’re going to always ask, 'Why do you have all of those scars? What’s wrong with you?' They're not going to want her to come play,” said Storms.

For all that others have endured, Storms believes that Tata has a big price to pay.

“I want the death penalty that's what I want. I want the death penalty. She deserves the death penalty,” Storm cried. "There is no justice, except for her to burn like those kids burned, so she could see exactly what she did to those children.”

Tata fled to Nigeria before she was officially charged. She was captured one month later.

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