HOUSTON -- After nine days of at times heart wrenching testimony, the prosecution has rested in the Jessica Tata murder trial.
A forensic pathologist from the Medical Examiner’s office was among the last to take the stand. Dr. Merrill Hines testified that Elias Castillo died from complications following smoke inhalation and ruled the death a homicide.
Castillo was among four children who died when Jessica Tata’s home day care caught on fire in February 2011. Three other children were injured. She allegedly left them alone during nap time with a pan of hot oil burning on the stove. Surveillance video showed her shopping at a Target store at around the same time the fire broke out.
Among those closely following the trial were members of the grand jury that indicted Tata on felony murder charges.
“Sometimes I forget how the heart actually hurts,” said Doris Au. “It could be my grandbaby. My heart actually tinges when I think about the reality of it.”
Defense attorney Mike Degeurin said he isn’t sure how many witnesses he will call to the stand, or whether Tata will testify in her own defense.