Man found guilty in torture of Sumpter Twp. 4 year old
A 29-year-old Sumpter Township man was found guilty Thursday by a Wayne County jury in the death of his girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter.
Brad Fields and the child's mother, Candice Diaz, 25, were charged with felony murder, second-degree murder, first-degree child abuse, torture, and first- and second-degree child abuse in Gabby Barrett's death on New Year's Day.
Fields was found guilty on all charges following the jury trial before Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Vonda Evans.
Police were called to the home on Jan. 1 and found Gabby unresponsive on the bathroom floor in a home at Rawsonville Woods mobile home park. Diaz allegedly told police that she found Gabby submerged in the bathtub after she left her there to make pancakes.
A police officer reported that he didn’t find much water in the tub, but he found body tissue, believed to be Gabby's, in the drain.
Gabby had been scalded, reports found, and the Washtenaw County Medical Examiner's Office said the abuse of the little girl was "the worst" his office had ever seen.
Investigators who testified in May during Fields' preliminary examination in 34th District Court in Romulus said Fields and Diaz discussed in Facebook Messenger about how to punish Gabby for wetting herself.
In one of the messages, Fields told Diaz that he had “smacked (the child) in the face twice” for urinating on herself.
In another, Fields wrote to Diaz that “it’s going to hurt her real bad if she doesn’t (expletive) stop” urinating on herself or defecating on the floor. Fields said he would urinate on the child.
Other disturbing details that emerged during testimony in the case alleged that the child was beaten and forced to sleep on a plastic garbage bag in a freezing mobile home in Sumpter Township in the last months of her life.
According to an autopsy, Gabby was asphyxiated, had burns on her feet and arms, and suffered from other injuries, including lacerations and contusions on her left cheek. The child's hair was matted and filled with lice.
Gabby also suffered from medical and dental neglect, which contributed to her death, the autopsy found.
Gabby went from behaving as an average child to an abused girl when she went to live with her mother and Fields, prosecutors said.
“She’s getting beaten, she’s getting tortured,” and the parents act as though it’s a funny game (through their Facebook messages),” said Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Melissa Palepu during Fields' preliminary examination in May. “Gabby Barrett is dead because of child abuse.”
“Her death is not from one blow,” Palepu said. “Her death is from her body breaking down from all of the injuries.”
Fields is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 9 .
Diaz goes on trial in March on the charges.