The stakes have been raised against Jessica Tata, the owner of the daycare center where four children died in a fire.
Previously charged with manslaughter, now Tata faces murder charges after court filings yesterday by the Harris County District Attorney's office.
The documents charge her with abandoning the children and exposing them to "an unreasonable risk of harm."
The felony charges each carry a sentence of five to 99 years, although probation would be possible.
Tata has hired Mike DeGeurin as her attorney; he previously has said Tata fought to save the kids.
"She broke windows with her hands, bloodied her arms. She crawled in twice," he told reporters when Tata was first charged. "A third time in is when she passed out, before the firemen got there. So, it was just a horror movie going on."
Video footage shows Tata at a Walmart just before the fatal fire last month.
After the blaze, and after being questioned by investigators, she flew to Nigeria. She is now in jail until she makes a $200,000 bond on each of the four charges.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.