During the punishment phase, Alfredo Galvan, a welfare fraud investigator, told jurors that Tata reported on state records that she was "self employed" and received money for "babysitting." He said Tata reported, on some applications, that she made $80 per week.
Galvan said that Jessica Tata received $4,136 worth of food stamps between December 2007 and February 2011. He said she was overpaid $3,981.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, several witnesses told jurors about Jessica Tata's history with fires.
Krystal Batts attended Taylor High School in Katy with Jessica Tata. said she had horrible memories when she heard about the fire at Jessica Tata's day care. Batts testified that her friendship with Jessica Tata ended the day in 2002 that Jessica Tata went up to her at school, showed her matches and said, "'I think I'm going to do something crazy.'"
Batts said a short time later, she heard the fire alarm and 3,000 students were evacuated from the school.
School officials testified that two fires Jessica Tata set caused about $2,000 worth of damage.
Jessica Tata has admitted to setting the fires because she was angry about being disciplined. She received probation and was required to undergo a counseling course called "Fire Stoppers," which is taught by the Houston Fire Department.
Houston Fire Department counselor Lisa Hayes testified that she warned Tata to think about her actions because she could kill people.
Jessica Tata's response was, according to Hayes, "I don't care."
Jessica Tata did not take the stand in her defense. Defense attorney Mike DeGeurin said he has not decided if Jessica Tata will testify in the punishment phase.
Jessica Tata faces three additional counts of murder, three counts of abandoning a child and two counts of reckless injury to a child. Trials on those charges have not yet been scheduled.
Prosecutors said Jessica Tata put the children in harm's way by leaving them alone and going shopping at a Target store. Jessica Tata's attorneys said she didn't intend to hurt the children. Defense attorneys said murder charges were excessive and that when the fire broke out, she tried to save the children.