Woman in day care fire case: 'Sorry is not enough'

AP News
Posted: Apr 21, 2011 12:59 PM
Woman in day care fire case: 'Sorry is not enough'

A Houston woman charged with murder after a fire at her home day care killed four children has said she hasn't spoken with the parents of any victims and is struggling to express her remorse.

"I would love to talk to them, but can't," Jessica Tata told Houston television station KTRK in a jailhouse interview Wednesday. "I've been instructed not to talk to anyone involved in the case."

Authorities believe Tata, 22, left seven children alone while she went shopping on Feb. 24, and that the fire was ignited by a stove-top burner that was left on at her Houston home.

Three other children were also injured in the blaze.

"Sorry is not enough," Tata said. "You can only say sorry so many times."

Two days after the fire, she caught a flight to Nigeria as investigators scrambled to convince prosecutors to file charges. Tata has family in the West African nation.

She was put on the U.S. marshals' list of the 15 most wanted fugitives and the agency offered a reward of up to $25,000.

Tata returned to the U.S. nearly one month later. She said she surrendered to Nigerian authorities who handed her over to the U.S. Embassy.

Tata, who also faces reckless injury and child abandonment charges, has been held in the Harris County Jail since March 22, separated from the other inmates for her own protection. Her bond is $1 million.

Her mother is working two jobs to pay for her defense attorney, she said.

Her next court date is May 12.

"I'm doing well," Tata said. "I pray a lot."

She said she had shaved her head to demonstrate her grief for the dead children.

"In my culture when women are in mourning, they shave their heads," Tata said.


Information from: KTRK-TV, http://abclocal.go.com