A Texas woman and her boyfriend allegedly beat her 4-year-old daughter so viciously she later died because she had been drinking her brother’s juice, according to reports.
Jeri Quezada, 30, and her boyfriend, 34-year-old Charles Phifer, are accused of taking heroin before they attacked little Leiliana Wright, according to an arrest affidavit.
Quezada first told police her daughter was badly bruised after she stayed with a friend for several days, but she later said she and Phifer hit Leiliana with a belt and bamboo stick over the juice on March 12, the affidavit said.
Quezada left the child at the house with Phifer because her face was bruised. He later called to tell her he had tied Leiliana up because she was making herself vomit, the document said.
She was left in the closet with her hands tied behind her back to a coat rod, which was also attached to something that made it impossible for her to sit down, the affidavit said.
Quezada went after her daughter again after she wouldn’t eat a sandwich, slapping her on the chest and the back of the head, according to the affidavit.
After Leiliana reportedly threw up when Phifer forced Pedialyte down her throat, he grabbed her by the throat and slammed her against a wall hard enough that her body made an indentation in the drywall, the document said.
He "threw the child back into the closet and shut the door," letting her out about 20 minutes later to take a shower, where she collapsed, the affidavit said.
Emergency responders said they arrived to find Quezada performing CPR, but Leiliana wasn’t breathing and was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner reported Leiliana died from blunt force trauma to her stomach and head, ruling the death a homicide.
“The child was found to have extensive bruising from head to toe,” police wrote.
She also had whip marks on her back, officials said.
Little Leiliana had seen a lot of turmoil in her short life, initially raised by her paternal grandparents as her mother was serving a six-year prison sentence for burglary when she was born, her grandfather, Craig Clakley, told the Star Telegram.
“We were told that if somebody in the family didn’t take the baby, then the baby would go into the (state) system,” he told the paper. “We felt like the baby needed to be raised by a family.”
Her mother gained custody of the child when she was released in 2013, rarely bringing her to see the grandparents who had often taken her to visit Quezada when she was incarcerated, Clakley said.
After being repeatedly “run off” when they tried to visit, the pair last saw their granddaughter in December, he said.
“We went to the courts, and they didn’t give us any backing because of us being grandparents,” he said.
He told KTVT-TV he hoped her mother served a long sentence if she is convicted in Leiliana's death.
“Whoever did this, I don’t ever want them out again,” he said.
He took to Facebook to express his sorrow over the loss of his granddaughter, writing: “Please forgive me for not protecting you from the fear and pain that you have gone through. The ones that kept you from us, may you burn in Hell for all eternity. You will no longer live in fear or pain. Please forgive me. You were an angel on earth, and now an angel in God's kingdom.”
Quezada was arrested March 25 and charged with injury to a child, but the charge may change, police said. She remained jailed in the Grand Prairie Jail with a $500,000 bail.
Phifer was arrested on Friday for the same charge, authorities said. His bail was set at $1 million, according to police. No other arrests are expected.
A memorial is scheduled for the little girl at 11 a.m. Saturday at Baylor All Saints Hospital, Clakley wrote on Facebook. Attendees are asked to not wear black “because we are celebrating her transitioning from an earthly angel to a heavenly angel,” he wrote.