HOUSTON—The great grandmother of Elias Castillo cried as she made her victim’s impact statement Tuesday, telling Jessica Tata that if she had only admitted guilt after the February 2011 fire things might not have ended in Tata receiving an 80 year sentence.
Four children in Tata’s care died after she left a pan of oil burning on the stove and then left the small children home alone while she strolled through a Target store. Tata was also fined $10,000.
“I was satisfied (with the sentence) because she might serve 30 or 40 of it...It’s sad for the whole family, for the Tata family, but honestly I’m glad it went that way,” said Elias’ great-grandmother Patty Sparks.
Tata showed no visible reaction to the grandmother’s victim impact statement. Her family sat with somber expressions.
This trial was only for Castillo. Tata’s attorney said there could be seven more trials. Sparks hopes not.
“I think it’s a victory for all the children. Why put those mothers and fathers through all this again?” she said.
Two of the young victims in the tragedy also said the 80-year sentence seemed right.
Little Makayla Richardson said she felt, “good” about it. She was burned in the blaze and has scars on her arm. Her brother Shomari died in the blaze.
Their older sister Kiyanna Richardson testified during the trial that Tata would often leave the children alone. She said when the babies would cry, she would try to calm them with pacifiers and bottles. The child said she learned something about right and wrong in all of this.
“Truth means when there’s something really happening and a lie is when something bad really happening,” Kiyanna Richardson said.
Sparks told Tata not to ever refer to the children who were in her care again as “her babies.” She said, “They were not. They never were.”