Girls: Convicted day care owner left babies alone

Associated Press Modified: November 15, 2012 at 6:17 pm •  Published: November 15, 2012
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Brighten's mother, Holly Long, told jurors that after her daughter told her what happened, she pulled the girl and her brother out of Tata's day care. The siblings were only in Tata's care for two to three weeks, Long said.

Sava Chantea, a neighbor who had considered using Tata's day care, told jurors when he went to visit the facility in July 2010, he opened its front door and found 12 children apparently alone.

There were "a bunch of little bitty kids all over ... They were walking around and crawling," said Chantea, who added that the home smelled of urine.

Martha Parra, who worked briefly for Tata in 2010, told jurors Tata would leave her alone for hours at a time with up to 12 children. Parra recalled one time when Tata drove her and the kids in the day care's van without putting the kids in car seats and dropped them off at a Baskin-Robbins for nearly three hours while Tata went to fix a flat tire on the van.

Parra said when she would arrive in the morning, "the house wasn't clean. The kitchen was with dirty dishes. There were diapers on the floor, throw up under the playpen."

Keshia Brown, 21, Elias' mother, recalled for jurors seeing her son in the hospital after the fire just shortly before he died, holding his hand and telling him "everything would be okay."

"To me he wasn't going to die. I wasn't going to let him die," Brown, who was the last prosecution witness, said as she cried. At least seven jurors could be seen crying during her testimony.

Alfredo Galvan, a former investigator with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, told jurors earlier Thursday he investigated Tata, who had received food stamps from December 2007 to February 2011, and determined she had committed welfare fraud.

Tata underreported her income and wrongly received nearly $4,000 in benefits, Galvan said. She faces a theft charge in that case.

She also faces three additional felony murder and other charges in relation to the other children killed and injured in the fire.

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Follow Juan A. Lozano at http://www.twitter.com/juanlozano70



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