Tata Trial Comes To An End

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Tata, 24, is charged with felony murder. Prosecutors said she left several children home alone with a pan of grease heating on a stove while she went shopping in 2011. When she got home, the house was on fire, officials said.

After the defense rested on Thursday morning, the prosecution called three rebuttal witnesses.

Bonyata suggested that the burner switch on the stove may have been faulty. He said similar switches on other stoves had caused burners to turn on or jump in temperature on their own.

Bonyata also said that an electrical malfunction in the refrigerator could have also caused the fire. He said there was heavy fire damage to the refrigerator and the area around it. He testified that a damaged electrical relay was recovered after the fire and records showed that someone tried to repair the refrigerator a week before the fire.

The prosecution had arson experts in court to listen to Bonyata's testimony. Earlier in the trial, the prosecution's engineering expert testified that he examined the stove after the fire and determined one of the burners had been on. He said that there were no problems with the stove's switches.

David Wrighter, an engineer and certified fire investigator, was called back to the stand on Thursday. He testified that the primary fire and heat patterns are like footprints in the snow -- if you follow them correctly, you will find the origin. He said all of the patterns point to the top of the stove as the cause of the fire. He said the fire pattern near the stove is not consistent with fire coming from the refrigerator, as Bonyata suggested, but the burn pattern on the wall behind the stove is consistent with the heat signature on the stove.

Prosecutors have also been telling the jury that it does not matter how the fire started, what matters is that evidence shows Tata left the children alone.

Kristi Smith with the Texas Department of Family Protective Services was the second rebuttal witness. She said that when she went to the home during the fire, she found Tata standing outside with neighbors. Smith said Tata told her that she was in the bathroom when the fire started and that she had vegetable oil heating on the stove. Tata told her that she came out of the bathroom, saw the fire, grabbed her keys and ran out the back door to yell for help.

Closing arguments will be held on Monday.

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