Man found guilty in 'worst child death case' gets automatic life sentence

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A Michigan man who was found guilty in the murder of his girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter was sentenced Tuesday. 

Brad Fields, 29, received a mandatory sentence to life in prison without parole after he was convicted of murder and torture. The 4-year-old girl, Gabrielle Barrett, was found dead in January with severe burns all over her body. A Washtenaw County Medical Examiner told police that it was the "worst child death case" seen in 27 years.

Fields and his girlfriend, Candice Diaz, Gabrielle's mother, had been on the run since the girl died. 

Police were called to a trailer home in Sumpter Township on New Year's Day and found the girl with severe burns all over her body. She was pronounced dead at a hospital. Investigators said Fields and Diaz discussed online how to punish the girl for wetting herself.

Fields and Diaz were arrested January 9 in Georgia. 

Editor's note: Some of the abuse investigation details you'll read below are disturbing.

According to documents, Gabrielle was found with burns on body including her legs from the knee down, her buttocks, posterior to both elbows and bruising all over. A medical examination found that she had been physically abused prior to her death. 

Diaz told police that Gabrielle ran her own bath water on Dec. 31, 2017 causing to burn her skin. The mother said she did not seek medical attention and claimed the girl wanted to take another bath the next day.

Police say Diaz claimed she left Gabrielle alone in the tub and went to make pancakes in the kitchen. She said she returned to find Gabrielle submerged up to her nose in the water. She said she pulled Gabrielle out of the tub who then vomited and called Fields to the bathroom for help. Diaz said Gabrielle continued to vomit and Fields attempted to provide CPR. 

The report says that "notably, Fields has refused to provide CPS with an explanation of how Gabrielle suffered such extensive injuries." Michigan State Police found a large amount of melted skin in the bathtub drain. One detective said that Gabrielle had been burned so badly that her large toe fell off her body.

A relative of Fields told us couple have been together on and off for six years, but during that time one thing that remained constant was the violence. All of that allegedly led to the death of little Gabby.

"Not in my 21 years of being a judge have I heard medical terms that were this graphic," Judge Vonda Evans said at Tuesday's sentencing. She compared the home to the castle in "Beauty and the Beast" -- but said the beast "had a good heart" while Fields was a "murderer."

"The terrible King Brad Fields has been dethroned by a brave, courageous warrior named Gabby Barrett, who gave her life to end your reign of terror and close down the palace of pain," she added. 

Fields declined to speak in court. Diaz is scheduled to be in court for a jury trial next March.