Sumpter couple arraigned in 4-year-old’s death

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Romulus — A Sumpter Township couple were arraigned on Saturday in connection with the death of the woman’s four-year-old daughter.

Candice Renea Diaz, 24, and her boyfriend Brad Edward Fields, 28, were charged with felony murder, second degree murder, torture and child abuse first degree in connection with the Jan. 1 death of Gabrielle Barrett.

The arraignment was conducted by video at 34th District Court in Romulus before 27th District Magistrate Elizabeth DiSanto. Diaz and Fields are due back in court Jan. 31 for a probable cause conference. The couple also were scheduled for a preliminary examination in the case Feb. 7.

Both were remanded to jail without bond. Fields attorney, Timothy Wrather, asked for mental treatment for for both. His requests for a $100,000 bonds was denied. Wrather said Fields has a mental illness.

When DiSanto asked when he last received mental health treatment Fields told the judge he didn't know.

Diaz also suffers from mental health issues stemming from when she was burned as a child . DiSanto said she would request mental health treatment for Diaz and Fields. A not guilty plea was entered for both.

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 girl was rushed to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Ann Arbor where she was pronounced dead. The girl’s death has been ruled as a homicide by the Washtenaw County Medical Examiner’s Office which cited evidence of multiple traumatic injuries and battered child syndrome, according to investigators in the case. The girl reportedly had been burned.

The child, according to state of Michigan documents filed 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.”

The child was reportedly burned so badly that a big toe fell off and allegedly melted skin was found in the bathtub.

Diaz told state welfare officials Gabrielle burned herself when running herself a bath, according to the documents.

Diaz also claimed she put Gabrielle in a half-filled bathtub and left her there while she made pancakes in the kitchen. When she returned, Diaz said she found the child girl submerged in the water up to her nose, authorities said.

Diaz said she pulled her daughter out of the tub. The child vomited and Fields attempted to administer CPR, the petition said.

The Washtenaw County Medical Examiner told authorities that Gabrielle’s death “was the worst child death case” he had seen in nearly three decades of practice, according to the documents.

State officials also said in the petition that both Diaz and Fields claim to have mental health issues. In paperwork filed with the Wayne County Juvenile Court, state authorities state that Diaz said she has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. Fields also said he has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, social anxiety, agoraphobia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Authorities said in the petition both are not compliant with their medications and both are not in counseling for their conditions.

The couple was extradited to Michigan in recent days from Georgia where they had been in a county jail after their arrest in Lake Park, Georgia on Jan. 9.

Michigan child welfare officials have begun legal proceedings to terminate the couple's parental rights to Diaz's other daughter , a one-year-old and Gabrielle's half-sister. A hearing is set for Jan. 25 in Wayne County Circuit Court on the state’s petition .

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services filed the request two days after Gabrielle's death, according to court documents.

Staff writers Charles Ramirez and Christine Ferretti contributed

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