Judge gives 'animal' mom prison for girl's abuse, death
A judge had harsh words Wednesday and a long prison sentence for a Sumpter Township woman convicted in the abuse and murder of her 4-year-old daughter.
"You are a female breeder who neglected your child for the love of a bum named Brad," Judge Vonda Evans said in Wayne County Circuit Court as she sentenced 25-year-old Candice Diaz to 30 to 60 years for the murder and abuse of Gabby Barrett. "You assisted this monster in the drowning of your beautiful, precious gift."
Diaz's boyfriend, Brad Fields, was sentenced to life in prison for murder and other charges in connection with the girl's death.
Evans told Diaz: "It is fitting ... that you and Brad are where you both belong: behind bars like the animals that you are."
Gabby was starved, beaten, tortured and forced to sleep on a plastic garbage bag in a freezing mobile home in Sumpter Township in the last months of her life, a township investigator testified during the preliminary examination for Fields, 29, who is the father of Gabby's younger sister.
Some of the abuse was videotaped and was shared between Diaz and Fields in text messages.
The child died New Year's Day. Police were called to the girl’s home in the Rawsonville Woods mobile home park and found her unresponsive on the bathroom floor. Her mother told police that she found Gabby submerged in the bathtub after she left her there to make pancakes.
Officials said the girl's death was the worst case of child abuse they had ever seen.
Investigators said the child was given cold baths, hit in the mouth and forced to sleep on the cold floor of the family's mobile home on a Hefty bag wearing nothing but underwear.
The girl was tortured and placed in scalded water, and her hair was pulled out from her scalp while she was still alive. When the child was discovered in the Sumpter Township mobile home, her flesh was hanging from her feet.
A police officer testified that he didn’t find much water in the tub but he found body tissue in the drain.
"Gabby was supposed to be taken care of her mother and instead she was scalded by her ... treated like a dog," Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Bruce Elsey told Evans. "Her skin was peeled off her (and) left in the sink ... tub. Her mother suffocated her to death."
Elsey said Diaz "had no care for her child" and only cared for herself.
"She didn't even call 911. She waited forever," he said. "She tried to figure out how to get out of it."
Diaz and Fields fled from Michigan and were extradited back to Metro Detroit to face charges.
"These are not the actions of a mother," said Elsey. "In fact I'm not sure these are the actions of a human being."
The prosecutor said Gabby got justice as a result of the charges and convictions against Diaz and Fields. He also thanked Sumpter Township Sgts. John Toth and Beth Egerer for their work on the case.
Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Carin Goldfarb read a letter from Gabby's father's family before Diaz was sentenced.
"She called herself a Mom. She's no Mom," the letter from a paternal aunt read. "I have so much anger for (Diaz). They deserve to be locked away forever."
Diaz's defense attorney David Cripps said his client herself was abused as a child and had both "severe" physical and emotional scars that resulted from being in a house fire in which her grandmother leapt from a window while Diaz "screamed in agony" while being left in a burning room to fend for herself.