HOUSTON After analyzing three years' worth of court cases, the 11 News I-Team found that -- even in the ones involving serious bodily injury or death -- the person convicted did not receive the maximum punishment allowed under Texas law.

For example, consider the case of Gwenetta Carr, who put her 7-month-old baby in a plastic bathtub and then a regular tub. She began running the water, but then left for 20 minutes while she spoke with her sister on the phone. When the mom returned, the baby wasn't breathing. He drowned.

Carr plea-bargained with the district attorney's office and got six years' deferred adjudication, a form of probation to avoid prison time.

In another case, Brittany Jordan and Michael Ford left their 10-month-old son in the care of others, and the baby was found eating what look liked sheetrock. But it wasn't sheetrock --it was cocaine. The child started convulsing uncontrollably and later died.

The couple also struck a deal with the DA's office, with each sentenced to just two years in prison.

Just like the Houston day care fire, both of those were reckless injury cases, as opposed to where the injury was intentionally and knowingly caused.

They don't intend that to happen to these children, said 11 News Legal Analyst Gerald Treece.

That state of mind often plays a factor in the ultimate punishment, Treece said.

It's a major distinction, because governments have a hard time proving what a person's state of mind is, he said.

But the I-Team found, even when the intention is clear, sentences can be soft.

In 47 serious child injury cases closed over the past three years, 15 defendants -- or nearly a third, were given probation. The remaining 32 got prison time -- an average of 25 years, but the max under law is 99 years or life.

Of course the Jessica Tata case is like no other we found. With the number of deaths, and charges:10 different counts in all.

Treece pointed out that with a conviction, the DA's office could push for consecutive sentencing. That means stacking one on top of each other, so in context, the charges carry a maximum of nearly 150 years in prison.

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