Mom Charged In Girl's Death Was Burned As a Child, Records Show

A Michigan mother charged with the murder of her 4-year-old daughter, who was severely burned, suffered serious burns herself as a child, a court record obtained by the Free Press Friday shows.

Candice Diaz, now 24, was injured in a house fire that happened when her biological mother left Diaz with her alcoholic grandmother, the record filed in 2004 reveals.

“The mother and a grandmother had been jailed because of injuries that occurred,” the document said.

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It didn’t say when the fire occurred or where, but documents in the Wayne County Circuit Court file show the parental rights of Diaz’s mother and father were terminated. 

Diaz and her boyfriend, Brad Fields, 28, now face charges connected to the death of Diaz’s daughter, Gabrielle Barrett. They include: felony murder, second-degree murder, first-degree child abuse and torture.

Gabrielle died New Year’s Day, shortly after authorities were called to the family’s mobile home and discovered the girl unresponsive and badly burned.

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She had bruises and burns over her entire body, had been physically abused before she died and her death was ruled a homicide, authorities said.

“I want justice for Gabby,” said Julie Speer, a cousin of Diaz’s. “She deserves it.”

Speer, who lives in Washington and never met Gabrielle, said she spent time with Diaz growing up and communicated with her as recently as the day Gabrielle died. 

She told the Free Press Diaz was burned from head to toe in the fire that occurred around the time Diaz was Gabrielle’s age. Diaz underwent several surgeries and had nightmares from it, she said.

“That fire damaged her physically and mentally,” Speer said.

Speer said Diaz was adopted by a relative, who provided for her and gave her a stable home. She said she can’t see hurting a child for something a person experienced in the past.  

“We’ve all been through shit,” Speer said.  “It’s no excuse.”

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