Jessica Tata Day Care Trial: Fire that killed 4 children may have been caused by malfunctioning stove, attorneys say

Jessica Tata
The Harris County Sheriff's office/AP Photo
Jessica Tata
AP Photo/The Harris County Sheriff's office

(CBS/AP) HOUSTON - Attorneys for a Texas day care worker charged with murder said Friday that the fire that killed four children under her care may have been sparked by a malfunctioning stove.

A forensic engineer testified for prosecutors Tuesday, disputing the defense's argument and saying that he found no problems after examining the stove in Jessica Tata's home.

Prosecutors said the fire started after 24-year-old Tate left the children at her Houston home while she went shopping in February 2011. Investigators said the blaze started after oil in a pan ignited on a stovetop burner that had been left on. Three other children, ranging from 16 months to 3 years old, were also injured.

Tata's attorneys say she didn't intend to harm the children. She is charged with four counts of felony murder but is currently being tried in the death of 16-month-old Elias Castillo. She faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Complete coverage of Jessica Tata on Crimesider