After the death of a 4-year-old Grand Prairie girl, one of the big questions surrounding the case is how the little girl ended up in the care of her mother - a drug abuser who is now charged with her death. FOX 4 spoke to the judge who signed the order, and he wants answers from Child Protective Services.
Family Court Judge William Harris has been on the bench in Tarrant County for 21 years. He says he’s as outraged as anyone when it comes to the death of 4-year-old Leiliana Wright. Police say Leiliana died after a heroin-fueled torture session by her mother, Jeri Quezada, and her mother’s boyfriend, Charles Philfer.
“Anytime harm comes to a child, it's frustrating and heart breaking,” said Harris.
The paternal grandparents, Jerry and Alisa Clakley, told FOX 4 there were many missed opportunities to help Leiliana. They say she often appeared battered and bruised.
In December 2014, the grandparents went to court expecting a hearing before Judge Harris' associate judge, Diane Haddock - hoping to get temporary custody.
“We never got the chance to go and see this judge,” said Alisa. “She didn't let us step into her courtroom, because we were grandparents.
Judge Harris says the reason that hearing didn't happen is because attorneys on both sides said the parties reached an agreement - giving Quezada custody and the Clakley's visitation.
“The associate judge did not hear a word of evidence and did not have one document admitted into evidence,” said Harris. “[She] based her recommendations solely on the representations of all of the parties and all of the attorneys of record.”
Harris says Quezada’s arrest record was not offered into evidence. He says he still has questions of his own.
“I want to know what CPS knew,” said Harris. “I want to know when they knew it.”
Harris says there's no court documentation of CPS’s involvement, and it’s unclear when it stepped in. Harris says it’s potentially one reason why some critical information didn't come to light.
“It certainly appears that there should have been a hearing in this case,” said Harris. “It certainly appears the court should have been given evidence about the mother and her circumstances. I think it was tragic the court was never allowed to hear that evidence.”
Harris says he’s requested all of the information and material related to Leiliana’s case from CPS. He hopes to get that information by next week.