Leiliana Wright loved to sing and dance and play with the chickens in her grandparents’ back yard in Alvarado.
“Ten Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,” said Leiliana’s grandfather, Craig Clakley, whose son is Leiliana’s father. “That was her favorite song.”
Leiliana was born in a Galveston hospital in January 2012, while her mother, Jeri Quezada, was serving a six-year prison sentence for burglary.
Clakley said he and his wife took the baby to their home.
“We were told that if somebody in the family didn’t take the baby, then the baby would go into the [state] system,” Clakley said. “We felt like the baby needed to be raised by a family.”
When Quezada was released in 2013, Quezada gained custody of the girl and went to live with a boyfriend in Rendon, Clakley said.
On March 13, Grand Prairie officers responded to a call about an injured child not long after midnight at a home in the 2200 block of 14th Street, police said. Leiliana, 4, was pronounced dead at 1:07 a.m. at Medical Center of Arlington.
Leiliana died of blunt force trauma to her head and abdomen, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office.
Quezada, 30, was arrested Friday on a warrant accusing her of injury to a child. The charge could change, a police spokesman said. She was in the Grand Prairie jail Tuesday with bail set at $500,000.
We felt like the baby needed to be raised by a family.”
Craig Clakley, Leiliana Wright’s grandfather
‘Such a beautiful child’
While Leiliana was an infant, the Clakleys continued to support Quezada, sending her money and driving Leiliana to the prison in Gatesville for visits. Clakley’s son was not in a financial position to take care of the little girl, Clakley said, but he later became more involved in her life.
“We didn’t want to say, ‘We’re the parents now, you’re not,’ ” Clakley said.
But when Quezada was released on parole in 2013 and took her child, the Clakleys’ contact with Leiliana grew sporadic.
They’d see the girl sometimes on weekends but were given no regular schedule.
Clakley and his wife would go to where Quezada was staying with her mother in Grand Prairie, “but they would run us off,” Clakley said.
The Clakleys last saw Leiliana in December.
“We went to the courts,” Clakley said, “and they didn't give us any backing because of us being grandparents.”
A Child Protective Services spokeswoman said in an email that its office had “previous involvement with the family of Leiliana Wright.” CPS will review its previous contacts with the family and issue a public report, the spokeswoman said.
“She was such a beautiful child,” Clakley said. “She was loved by anybody who was around her.”