The Sumpter Township couple charged in the death of the woman’s 4-year-old daughter will go to trial on a state’s petition to have their parental rights severed for a younger child the couple share.
A pre-trial hearing on the state’s petition was held for Candice Renea Diaz, 24, and her boyfriend Brad Edward Fields, 28, before Wayne County Juvenile Court Judge Edward Joseph.
A trial date was scheduled for April 24 through May 4 and is expected to last at least two weeks. Another pre-trial hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. April 23. About a dozen witnesses are expected to be called to testify, an attorney for the state of Michigan told the judge Thursday.
Diaz was not in the courtroom but heard the proceedings on the phone while Fields faced the judge in person wearing green Wayne County Jail garb.
Both Diaz and Fields were arraigned Saturday in Romulus District Court in connection with the torture and death of Diaz’s daughter, Gabrielle. They have been charged with felony murder, second-degree murder, torture and child abuse first-degree in connection with Gabrielle’s Jan. 1 death.
The couple have a one-year-old daughter together, who was the focus of Thursday’s hearing.
Authorities say Gabrielle was found severely burned New Year’s Day at a residence on Greenmeadow Drive in the Rawsonville Woods mobile home community near Willow Road.
The young child was rushed to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Ann Arbor where she was pronounced dead. Her death has been ruled a homicide by the Washtenaw County Medical Examiner’s Office, which cited multiple traumatic injuries on the child’s body and evidence of battered child syndrome, according to investigators in the case. The girl reportedly had been burned.
In court documents filed by the state of Michigan with the Wayne County Juvenile Court, Gabrielle had bruises all over her body and severe “burns on her legs from the knee down, on her buttocks, posterior to both elbows.”
Gabrielle was reportedly burned so badly that a big toe fell off and allegedly melted skin was found in the bathtub.
Diaz told state welfare authorities that her daughter burned herself while running herself a bath, according to the state’s documents.
Diaz also allegedly claims she put Gabrielle in a half-filled bathtub and left her there while she made pancakes in the kitchen. Diaz claimed when she returned, she found the child girl submerged in the water up to her nose, authorities say.
The child was pulled from the tub and vomited, authorities quotes Diaz as saying. Fields attempted to administer CPR, the petition said.
Diaz and Fields face a Jan. 31 probable cause conference and a preliminary examination on the charges in Gabrielle’s death Feb. 7 in the Romulus District Court.
The Washtenaw County Medical Examiner told authorities the child’s death “was the worst child death case” he had seen in nearly three decades of practice.
Prior to Thursday’s hearing for the couple’s one-year-old daughter, Fields faced a Wayne County Juvenile Court magistrate about parental rights and visitation involving two daughters with another woman. The ages of the children were not revealed Thursday in court.
Fields was served with official papers by the court seeking to end his parental rights and visitation involving the two girls. They are still living with their mother whom the court determined was determined not to be a “substantial risk of harm” to the children.
State authorities are seeking to terminate Fields’ parental rights in that case as well because of the criminal charges against him.
One of them is the half-sister of the one-year-old daughter with Diaz through Fields.
Detroit News staffer Charles Ramirez contributed