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State: Parents in girl's death claim mental health issues, no medication

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Sumpter Township Police said Wednesday the extradition process has started for the couple accused in the death of a 4-year-old girl.

Candice Renea Diaz, 24, and Brad Edward Fields, 28, are currently being housed in a Georgia county jail and authorities have started the process of transferring them to Michigan to face charges in the death of Gabrielle Renea Barrett, Police Chief Eric Luke said in a statement.

Candice Renea Diaz, left, and Brad Edward Fields

Luke said there is no timetable for the process to be completed and the department will not release any further information about the case. He referred future requests for information to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.

Meanwhile, state officials have begun legal proceedings to sever the couple's parental rights to Diaz's other daughter and Gabrielle's half-sister. A hearing on the state's petition is scheduled for Jan. 25 in Wayne County Circuit Court.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services filed last week Wednesday — two days after Gabrielle's death — the request with the court to terminate their custodianship of her 1-year-old half-sister, according to court documents.

State officials don't accuse Diaz and Fields of abusing the 1-year-old, but ask that she be removed from their home because of "improper supervision and physical abuse resulting in a child death."

In its filing, the state agency provided some horrific details on Gabrielle's death.

It said the 4-year-old was found unresponsive and in cardiac arrest in the home's bathroom.

She also had bruises all over her body and severe "burns on her legs from the knee down, on her buttocks, posterior to both elbows," it said.

In the petition, state officials said police told them Gabrielle was so badly burnt, one of her big toes fell off her body.

According to the state, Michigan State Police investigators found "a large amount of melted skin in the bathtub drain."

Diaz told state officials Gabrielle burned herself when running herself a bath on New Year's Eve, according to the documents.

She also claimed she put Gabrielle in a half-filled bathtub and left her there to make pancakes in the kitchen. When she returned, she found the little girl submerged in the water up to her nose, officials said.

Diaz said she pulled Gabrielle out of the tub, the girl vomited and her boyfriend attempted to provide CPR, the petition said.

The Washtenaw County Medical Examiner told police that Gabrielle's death "was the worst child death case" he had seen in 27 years of practice, according to the documents.

State officials also said in the petition that both Diaz and Fields claim to have mental health issues. Diaz said she has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. Fields said he has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, social anxiety, agoraphobia and post-traumatic stress disorder. Officials said in the petition both are not compliant with their medications and both are not in counseling for their conditions. 

On Wednesday, officials for the Washtenaw County Medical Examiner's Office said the autopsy report on Gabrielle was not available because the exam had not yet been completed. The report will not be available for at least 60 days, officials said.

The state's court petition also said both Diaz and Fields have criminal histories. Diaz is on probation for 2016 convictions for carrying a concealed weapon and possession of prescription forms. Fields has convictions for interfering with a police investigation, third-degree retail fraud and carrying a concealed weapon.

U.S. Marshals captured the two Tuesday afternoon as they drove near Lake Park, Georgia, police said. 

Officials spent days seeking Diaz and Fields, who were both wanted on arrest warrants authorized by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

Sumpter Township Police officers were called on New Year's Day to a residence on Greenmeadow Drive in the Rawsonville Woods Mobile Home Community on Rawsonville Road near Willow Road to respond to reports of an unresponsive 4-year-old girl, according to officials.

Officers arrived and found the girl's family members administering CPR, Luke said.

The girl was taken to a hospital in Ann Arbor where she was pronounced dead, he said.

Gabrielle Renea Barrett

Last week, the Washtenaw County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death a homicide, citing evidence of multiple traumatic injuries and battered child syndrome, police said.