K'Lanie Reyes was a happy and loving little girl who almost made it to her third birthday. Just a few days before that milestone, she suffered massive head trauma.
On Wednesday, the girl's caregiver accepted a 40-year prison sentence related to her death.
29-year-old Erica Jones took a plea deal for an injury to a child charge.
After the court hearing, the girl's heartbroken grandparents spoke about the frustration they feel over unanswered questions.
“I was asking why, you know, she was two," K'Lanie's grandmother, Linda Bryant, said. "She couldn't have done nothing to make you that mad at her.”
Bryant said Jones remained silent throughout the proceeding. “She didn't answer. She didn't say anything. You ask her questions and she's not responding so really I didn't get any closure."
Bryant said she was surprised that they have been unable to get any clues about a motive for this senseless death.
“The mystery is a big part of the hurt, yes, it is. Nobody knows what happened but her and K'Lanie and she's obviously not talking.”
Bryant said the pain is felt by many. “I told her ‘you ruined two families. You ruined your life and you ruined our lives.’”
At the clerk’s office, while reviewing the criminal case file, the grandparents saw evidence that the little girl was fine on a late-night shopping trip.
Video images captured at two local stores showed the little girl riding on her father’s shoulders and playing in a shopping cart in a checkout lane.
The next morning, the two-year-old was found unresponsive and suffering from brain trauma that killed her several days later, in spite of heroic efforts by medical personnel.
Both grandparents said they believe the system failed all of them.
K'Lanie's grandfather, Raymond Bryant, says that “if CPS would have got up and done their job properly, my grandbaby wouldn't be dead, and so many other kids wouldn't be going through this situation.”
Raymond Bryant says his pleas to CPS and his elected representatives have fallen on deaf ears and he has had no acceptable response.
“I don't think a kid's life is as sacred as they claim it to be,” Raymond Bryant said. “What hurts me the most is that I can't get no satisfaction from what happened because it wasn't just her."
"There are too many other kids going through it. I'm angry. I feel our government, CPS, and all these officials are pushing stuff like this under the rug.”
Raymond Bryant said he will continue fighting for justice for his beloved little girl.
“They thought I would just let this die down but I am not going to do that because I feel this baby, we owe it to this baby for something to be done for her death.”
Both grandparents gave victim impact statements in the 226th District Court. They said Jones only cried when she learned her fate.
Linda Bryant said, “Her demeanor was good until he said forty years, and then she started crying. So she was crying because she got that amount of time in jail; because her lawyer was trying to get her twenty and the judge said no.”
Raymond Bryant continued, “You just feel like you were robbed of something very special. "
They said with a 40-year sentence, Jones could be eligible for parole in twenty years. They both agreed they hope they will still be around to protest her release from prison.
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