Jessica Tata wants evidence found after fire tossed

Day care owner charged with 4 counts of murder

HOUSTON - The woman charged in a day care fire that killed four children was in court Monday to try to get some of the evidence against her thrown out

Jessica Tata has been charged with four counts of murder, three counts of abandoning a child and two counts of reckless injury to a child.

Authorities believe she left the children alone while she went shopping and the fire was ignited by a stove-top burner left on.

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 Crestpark at Waypark shortly before 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 24, 2011. Three other children were injured in the fire.

Tata fled to Nigeria, after the fire but before she was charged. She was captured a month later.

In court, Tata's lawyers told a judge that arson investigators should not have gone into her home and looked through her diaries and computer. They said she did not give her permission to do that, so they want the evidence thrown out.

"Any evidence that was taken was without permission of the court or without a court order is presumably not admissible unless there's some exception to it," attorney Mike DeGeurin said. "Of course there are emergency exceptions. When there's a fire, of course they need to go in and put the fire out to save the children that were inside."

Prosecutors said Tata's landlord gave them permission to search the home.

Tata is scheduled to go to trial next week.

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