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Prosecutors allege that Jessica Tata had hot oil cooking on a stove at her day care job when she left the children alone to go shopping at a nearby Target store. But Tata’s defense attorneys have told jurors she didn’t intend to harm the children, who ranged in age from 16 months to 3 years old, and that the February 2011 fire was not caused by anything their client did.

Tata, 24, is charged with four counts of felony murder but is currently being tried in the death of 16-month-old Elias Castillo. She faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Electrical engineer Richard Bonyata, testifying for Tata, told jurors he believes a switch that would have been used to turn on the burner in question was in the off position at the time of the blaze.

Because of that, he said, “You would have to consider all other competent ignition sources … and completely eliminate everything else.”


4.2-magnitude quake reported off coast

PORTLAND — A 4.2-magnitude earthquake struck in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Oregon and California.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck early Wednesday roughly 140 miles west of Gold Beach, Ore., just north of the California border.

The sheriff’s office in Curry County said there were no reports of shaking or damage.

From wire dispatches and staff reports