The mother of 4-year-old Leiliana Wright pleaded guilty Wednesday for the role she played in her daughter's death.
Grand Prairie Police said Jeri Quezada and her ex-boyfriend, Charles Phifer, beat Wright with a belt and a bamboo stick, then tied her up and threw her against a wall March 12, 2016, because she reportedly drank her brother's juice.
Wright later died at the hospital.
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Police said Quezada and Phifer were high on heroin that day. Both were arrested and indicted in connection to Wright's death.
Quezada pleaded guilty to one count of injury to a child as a part of plea bargain with the Dallas County District Attorney's Office. She'll be sentenced to 50 years in prison in exchange for her testimony and cooperation during Phifer's upcoming trial. Had she gone to trial, she faced up to life in prison.
"She's resigned herself to what took place, she's resigned herself to her role in what took place, and she's accepted her responsibility," said Paul Johnson, Quezada's attorney. "She's very composed for someone going through what she's gone through, with the knowledge that it's something she possibly could have prevented."
Quezada said little during Wednesday's hearing, offering soft-spoken, one-word answers to questions Johnson and a judge asked her.
Wright's grandparents and other family members were also in the courtroom, some of them wearing yellow t-shirts that read "#JusticeForLeiliana".
They declined to comment following the hearing, although they could be seen hugging Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson.
In a statement, Johnson said:
“It takes a team effort to raise our children and to protect them. Unfortunately, Leiliana could not be protected. We are proud to seek justice on behalf of children like Leiliana, who are Texas’s most vulnerable victims. We hope this plea and the ultimate sentencing will dissuade those who dare to put children in harm’s way.”
Quezada will be sentenced once Phifer's trial has concluded. He is due back in court in September.