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Key tests haven't started in mother's death

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Nique Leili

LAWRENCEVILLE — Key toxicology tests that could provide investigators a glimpse at how a Lawrenceville mother of three died have yet to begin, nearly two weeks since her decomposed body turned up in her neighborhood woods.

Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter said last week the toxicology testing — to be performed as usual at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s laboratory in Decatur — could determine if Nique Leili’s death was indeed a homicide, as police are treating it now.

But samples collected during Leili’s autopsy 11⁄2 weeks ago have yet to make it to the GBI crime lab, officials said Wednesday.

Ted Bailey, Chief Forensic Investigator for the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s Office, said plans call for the samples to be delivered today, as part of a weekly transfer of materials to the GBI lab. The time lapse does not constitute a delay, he said.

“We are going to request (that GBI scientists) expedite the testing,” Bailey said. “We normally take samples to the crime lab once a week, and there really hasn’t been a delay.”

A timeframe for how long the expedited testing might take wasn’t available Wednesday, said GBI spokesman John Bankhead.

“Lab scientists won’t have an estimate on the time until they get the samples,” Bankhead said.

Nearly three weeks since Leili vanished — and two weeks since volunteer searchers found her body covered in leaves and sticks less than a mile from her home — no charges have been filed.

Leili’s husband of 13 years, Matt Leili, is the lone suspect police have named. He’s kept mum during the investigation but said in a press release distributed by his attorney last week that he’s “done nothing wrong.”

Matt Leili’s communications with his wife’s family ceased the day her body was discovered, and he’s disallowed the couple’s two daughters, ages 9 and 12, to speak with their maternal family.

A strange legal battle over control of Nique Leili’s remains was settled outside of court this week when the two sides agreed to have separate funerals.

Matt Leili, the legal next-of-kin, would typically assume custody of the remains, but Nique Leili’s 19-year-old daughter from a previous marriage petitioned and was granted control of the body on Monday.

The 44-year-old’s body was found in woods near the entrance of her Oak Village subdivision in Lawrenceville on July 16, more than a week after her husband told authorities she’d vanished from their home after an argument.

The next legal battle for the two sides involves the Leilis’ two daughters. Nique Leili’s father, Douglas Chatham, has filed for custody of the children.

A custody hearing is scheduled Aug. 15.