Friends: Convicted Day Care Owner Was Good Person

FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2012 file photo, Jessica Tata, accused in the deaths of four children at her west Houston daycare, stands at the conclusion of opening statements at the Harris County Criminal Courthouse, in Houston. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Mayra Beltran, File)
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HOUSTON (AP) - Friends of a Texas woman convicted of murder after a fire at her home day care killed four children say she is a good person who loves kids and that she would never intentionally do them harm.

Attorneys for Jessica Tata (TAH'-tah) began presenting witnesses on Friday in the punishment phase of her trial. She could be sentenced to up to life in prison for the death of 16-month-old Elias Castillo.

Prosecution witnesses have described Tata as an irresponsible day care owner. But several of her friends on Friday described her as compassionate and dedicated to kids.

Prosecutors rested Thursday. They said the February 2011 fire started after Tata left children alone with a pan of oil on a hot stove while she went shopping. Three other children were injured.