A judge ruled Friday that sufficient evidence exists for a Michigan man to stand trial for the alleged torture and murder of his girlfriend’s young daughter, crimes the woman are also accused of, PEOPLE learns.
Some of that evidence, according to local reports, included disturbing text messages the couple exchanged about the abused 4-year-old, who died from asphyxiation and had arm and leg burns, lacerations and facial contusions.
WDIV reports that Sumpter Township Police Sgt. Elizabeth Egerer testified on Friday that the messages between Brad Fields, 28, and Candice Diaz, 24, chronicled their abuse of 4-year-old Gabrielle Barrett, who had been wetting herself.
Gabrielle died on Jan. 1, 2018.
Fields told Diaz in one message he had “smacked [the child] in the face twice” after she’d had an accident, according to the Detroit News.
Diaz instructed Fields to “smack her a–” in one message, WDIV reports.
Egerer said that 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, the Detroit News reports.
The messages allude to other abuse Gabrielle was allegedly subjected to, including cold baths, being struck in the mouth and sleeping on the cold floor in only her underwear. One message indicates Fields was contemplating urinating on the girl himself, reports the paper.
Both defendants allegedly fled Michigan after Gabrielle’s death, and were arrested days later near Lake Park, Georgia.
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On Jan. 3, the Washtenaw County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Gabrielle’s death a homicide after finding evidence of multiple traumatic injuries and signs of Battered Child Syndrome — meaning the girl had multiple injuries to her body that were sustained at different times.
When she was found, her hair was matted and filled with lice, reports the Detroit News.
She also suffered from medical and dental neglect, according to the paper.
Fields’ attorney reportedly told the court his client is innocent of torture.
“There is no evidence or testimony Brad Fields was involved in torturing Gabby Barrett in any way to support a torture charge,” the News quotes Timothy Wrather as saying.
Mental assessments have been ordered for both defendants, PEOPLE confirms.
Diaz is due in court later this week to learn if her case will also proceed to trial.
Both Diaz and Fields are charged with felony murder, second-degree murder, torture and first-degree child abuse. They have pleaded not guilty to those charges.
On Friday, Fields was additionally charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree child abuse and conspiracy to commit second-degree child abuse.
It was unclear if Fields had entered pleas to the new charges he faces.