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Disturbing Details Of 4-Year-Old's Beating Death Revealed In Capital Murder Trial

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Dallas County jurors will hear closing arguments Monday and begin deliberating the fate of Charles Wayne Phifer.

Charles Wayne Phifer
Charles Wayne Phifer (credit: CBSDFW.COM)

He's accused of capital murder in the beating death of his girlfriend's daughter, Leiliana Wright.

Leiliana Wright
Leiliana Wright (credit: Alisa & Craig Clakley)

The March 2016 death especially touched North Texans and enraged others when news spread that the little girl's paternal grandparents had warned CPS that she was in danger.

Testimony in the case concluded Thursday with gruesome autopsy photos that documented how the 4-year-old suffered before enduring the fatal blows.

"You can beat anybody to death," concluded Tarrant County Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Marc Krouse.

Dr. Krouse performed the autopsy on Leiliana and left the witness stand to stand near the jury box while showing the photos, and explaining what they revealed.

The child's body was covered from head to foot in bruises, abrasions and whip marks, some of them inflicted before the night she died.

The jury saw photos of the ligature marks on both wrists and according to earlier testimony, Leiliana had been beaten and tied up in a dark closet while her mother, Jeri Quezada had gone out for a steak dinner with family.

Jeri Quezada
Jeri Quezada (CBS11)

Leiliana had been left in the car of Phifer, Quezada's boyfriend, because she had been throwing up.

Although the community, and the jurors have known that Leiliana was beaten to death, there was something decidedly different about viewing the visual evidence of how horribly she suffered.

Dr. Krouse would ultimately tell jurors the child died of "blunt force trauma" to her head and abdomen.

According to the medical examiner's report, Leiliana Wright was hit or kicked so hard that her belly wall slammed into her spine.

Jurors could be seen wiping away tears. Others grimaced. One wore a dark scowl and several lowered their eyes.

"Was there intent to kill? I don't know," testified Dr. Krouse, "An intent to injure? I have very good evidence that there was. Did the injuries cause the death? No question. That's a homicide in our book."

Phifer is facing the possibility of life in prison without parole if convicted.

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