Sawyer said she tried to assure Tata that the children would be OK, but Tata told her that the fire had been going on "a long time." Sawyer said Tata told her that she had been in the bathroom when the fire started and she passed out from the smoke.
Sawyer testified that she saw several of the children being carried out of the home by firefighters. Those children were covered in soot. Sawyer said she noticed that Tata did not have any soot on her clothing and she didn't smell like smoke.
Sawyer said she told Tata to call her mother, but Tata didn't want to do that.
"'Oh my God -- don't tell my mom,'" Sawyer said Tata told her. "'She's going to kill me. She didn't want me to have this day care in the first place.'"
Neighbor Michael McAndrews said Tata told him something odd while firefighters were battling the blaze and trying to rescue the children.
"'I don't need to be running a day care. I've got money,'" McAndrews said Tata told him.
Another neighbor, Cynthia Poursartip, said that Tata admitted to her that she wasn't home when the fire stated. When she asked why, Poursartip said Tata told her, "I will tell them that when I testify."
Firefighter Billy Harris told the jury that Tata also told him that she was in the house when the fire started. He said he asked Tata why her clothes were so clean. He said Tata told him that she tried to lead the kids out of the fire but they kept running in circles.
"I told her there was no way she could have been inside," Harris testified.
Harris said Tata did not have a response to that statement.
Tata did make a call to 911 when she saw the fire, officials said.
"They're dying. I can't see anything. I can't even go in there and get them," Tata told the 911 operator. "The kids are dying."
Four minutes before the fire started, security cameras caught Tata shopping at a nearby Target store. The video was shown to jurors.
Tata has been charged with four counts of murder, three counts of abandoning a child and two counts of reckless injury to a child.
Prosecutors said Tata put the children in harm's way by leaving them alone and going shopping. While she was at Target, a fire broke out in the kitchen when oil in a frying pan on a stovetop burner ignited. Three children were also seriously injured in the blaze.
Tata's attorneys said she didn't intend to hurt the children. Defense attorneys said murder charges are excessive and that when the fire broke out, she tried to save the children, who ranged in age from 16 months to 3 years old.
After the fire, Tata fled to Nigeria but was captured after about a month, returned to the U.S. in March 2011 and has remained jailed. She was born in the U.S. but has Nigerian citizenship.
Shomari Dickerson, 3, Elizabeth Kojah, 20 months, Kendyll Stradford, 20 months, and Elias Castillo, 16 months, died in the fire at Jackie's Child Care on Crest Park at Waypark Drive shortly before 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 24, 2011. Three other children were injured. Tata is standing trial for felony murder first for the youngest of the victims -- Elias Castillo.