Family petitions for custody of slain woman's kids



Amplify’d from www.ajc.com

The family of a slain Gwinnett County mother is asking that custody of the woman's young daughters be granted to a grandparent, rather than the children remaining with a murder suspect.

Matt Leili, 43, has been named a suspect in the death of his wife, Nique Leili, whose body was found under a pile of leaves in the couple's Lawrenceville neighborhood over the weekend. But there have been no arrests in the death.

On Monday, the medical examiner's office confirmed the remains belonged to the 44-year-old woman, who also has a 19-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. The cause of death has not yet been released.

The couple's two daughters, ages 12 and 9, have remained with their father since Nique Leili was reported missing a week ago.

Tuesday afternoon, attorney Noel Benedict told the AJC he would be filing a petition in Gwinnett County Superior Court to allow Nique Leili's father to have custody of the Leili girls.

"I have prepared a petition for the grandfather to get at least visitation, if not custody, of the two minor children," Benedict said. “The first priority is to make sure they're safe."

Benedict said he also plans to file a petition in probate court to allow Nique Leili's remains be released to her adult daughter, rather than to Matt Leili.

Matt Leili filed for divorce from his wife on July 13, seeking sole custody, alimony and child support, according to Gwinnett County court records. The divorce petition was filed two days after Matt Leili told his wife's family she was missing. Matt Leili told police he and his wife had argued July 8 and he woke up the following morning to find her gone.

A recording of a 911 call late last month, released Tuesday by Gwinnett police, indicates the couple may have been having marital problems prior to Nique Leili's death.

"My husband refuses to let me leave the house," Nique Leili told the 911 operator about 6:50 a.m. June 28.

Matt Leili then told the operator his wife was just throwing a tantrum and had awakened the kids.

"Do you really want the cops here?" Matt Leili asked his wife.

Second later, Nique Leili returns to the line, saying, "You don't need to come. I'll stay in the house all day."

Gwinnett County police were dispatched to the Sidneys Cove home, where neither Matt nor Nique wanted to leave the home. Investigators found no evidence of physical contact during the incident.

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