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Houston based Nigerian, Jessica Tata, sentenced to 80 years in prison for the murder of four children
| November 21, 2012
Jessica Tata, a Houston, Texas based Nigerian, who was found guilty of felony murder on Nov. 13 after a fire in February 2011 that killed four children, has been sentenced to 80 years in prison and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. Jessica Tata left some children, that she was taking care of, alone in a home with a pan of oil on a stove while she went to the store. By the time she got back, the house was on fire and four children - Shomari Dickerson, 3 years; Elizabeth Kojah, 20 months; Kendyll Stradford, 20 months; and Elias Castillo, 16 months, had died in the fire. Three other children were also injured. She was convicted for the death of Elias Castillo and still faces three other counts of felony murder in relation to the three other children who died in the fire, and three counts of abandoning a child and other counts of reckless injury to a child in relation to the three who were injured. She was born in the U.S. but has Nigerian citizenship, and after the incident she fled from the U.S to Nigeria but was captured in Nigeria and returned to the U.S. in March 2011, and has remained in jail since then. The prosecutors had argued that Jessica was an irresponsible day care owner who had left the children alone on multiple occasions and that her day care facility was unclean. Jessica's family and friends told jurors that she was a good person who loved kids and asked the jury for mercy. Her attorneys said that she never intended to harm the children and had tried to save them when she realized what was going on. However, by Texas law, the prosecutors did not need to show that she intended to harm the children. They only had to show that they died because she left them alone. Also, video was shown during the trial that showed Jessica shopping at a store just before the fire occurred and a former manager of the store told jurors that Jessica did not seem to be in a hurry even when she realized that she had left the pan on the stove while the kids were alone at the day care. After the sentencing, Elias' family said they were happy that she received a harsh punishment. The jurors deliberated for eight hours before deciding to sentence her to 80 years in prison. She will be eligible for parole in 30 years at the age of 54. Her conviction will be appealed but she still faces seven more trials.

(2) Comment


"The views and opinions expressed in these comment(s) or article(s) do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of NGEX, its partners or its affiliates."
Sunday joseph    Warri, Nigeria    February 06, 2013
The punishment is too much for her. Recklessness or not it wasn't her intention to harm the children so the court of law should tamper justice with mercy.
ilemobayo emmanuel    ondo, nigeria    December 01, 2012
Oh! What a careless being.
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