Monday, March 28, 2011
Saturday, March 5, 2011
By: Jacquelyn Carpenter
The story of seven toddlers left alone with no adult supervision in a home daycare while the caretaker went shopping is beyond my imagination. Worse, is that she left grease cooking on the stove while she was absent from the home, which caused a fire. If you are in the Houston area, you are probably familiar with this tragic and fatal story. Daycare Worker Shops While House with Seven Toddlers Inside Burns.
As a criminal defense attorney, I feel compelled to give the benefit of the doubt to the accused, Jessica Tata, who has been charged with reckless injury to a child, seven counts of child abandonment and a federal fleeing to avoid prosecution charge. However, I have struggled with that concept in Jessica Tata’s case. I instead found myself focusing on the very thing that I request of juries during sentencing (which only occurs after a defendant is found guilty) - Mercy.
I was prepared to rationalize an argument for mercy regarding Jessica Tata. After all, accounts led us to believe that the children were quite happy in her care and the parents were pleased with her as well. Moreover, the parents of a child that died found it in their hearts, despite their grief, to forgive Jessica Tata. Furthermore, it seems quite clear that Jessica Tata was frantic herself, once she became aware of the fire, worried about the welfare of the children inside. Yes, all of this was tragic, but unintentional. I was prepared to contend that mercy should be shown this poor soul who would have to live with the end results of her irresponsibility for the rest of her life and may need counseling herself to do so. Then Jessica Tata did the unthinkable - she fled to Nigeria. Jessica Tata Flees to Nigeria While children died and others fought to live, Jessica Tata, whose irresponsible actions put them in that very situation unnecessarily, planned her escape.
Thinking the daycare situation would cause parents to gratefully watch their children more carefully, I was surprised to read a story today about a 2 year old toddler meandering the streets of Southwest Houston alone. Father Naps While 2 Year Old Wanders the Streets. The father napped while his daughter walked. Please understand that I am fully aware that accidents happen. I’m bothered, however, by what I view as preventable. For instance, if an adult were in the house, the fire was preventable or deaths of four children would have been preventable. In today’s instance, how did the two year-old reach the door and have the strength to open it. Assuming she could climb out of her crib, is it not basic to be able to keep a toddler in the house? I am not a parent; I have no children, but the vast majority of parents do not have children wandering around Houston alone. Other parents seem to be able to prevent this. Why did this father fail?