Father, stepmother charged in beating death of 8-year-old Gwinnett girl

Woman accused of hitting child ‘10-20 times’ with rolling pin
Gwinnett County police said the 8-year-old girl was found dead in a home near Bethlehem on Tuesday afternoon.

Credit: Gwinnett County Police Department

Credit: Gwinnett County Police Department

Gwinnett County police said the 8-year-old girl was found dead in a home near Bethlehem on Tuesday afternoon.

The day after a Gwinnett County stepmother was charged in the death of an 8-year-old, the girl’s father was also charged, police said Thursday.

Investigators were called to a Bethlehem home Tuesday afternoon about a report of a medical emergency. Now, they believe the girl had been beaten to death and that her father knew about the ongoing abuse but failed to protect her, according to arrest warrants.

Natiela Barros, 34, allegedly beat the child with a wooden rolling pin 10 to 20 times, a warrant states. The child had been hit all over her body, including the top of her neck, investigators detailed.

Natiela Barros (left) and Cledir Barros face charges in the beating death of their 8-year-old daughter in Gwinnett County.

Credit: Gwinnett County Police Department

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Credit: Gwinnett County Police Department

Barros was arrested later the same day on charges of felony murder, malice murder, first-degree cruelty to children and aggravated assault. She was booked into the Gwinnett jail Tuesday evening and denied bond at her first court appearance.

The girl’s father, 37-year-old Cledir Barros, was arrested Wednesday. He faces charges of second-degree murder and second-degree cruelty to children and was being held without bond Thursday morning, jail records show.

A second-degree murder charge can be filed if a child dies and if prosecutors believe they can prove criminal negligence on the part of the adult responsible for the child’s safety, according to Georgia law. In this case, investigators believe Cledir Barros “was aware the child was abused and continued to leave (her) unsupervised with the abuser,” according to his warrant.

Hours before his arrest, Cledir Barros spoke to Channel 2 Action News.

“I can’t even put into words, you know, something that came upon her,” he said of Natiela Barros. “She just lost control, went above and beyond. I don’t know.”

The day the girl died, Gwinnett police were called to the Barros’ home on Vine Springs Trace around 2:15 p.m., police spokesman Ryan Winderweedle said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The girl had been home with Natiela Barros when she “suffered some kind of medical emergency,” Winderweedle said. Natiela Barros then called Cledir Barros, who returned home and found his daughter unresponsive, officials said.

At some point, the father called 911 and began performing CPR. But it’s not clear how long the couple waited to call for help, as they are both accused of not seeking medical care when the child was having the medical emergency, according to their warrants.

When officers arrived, they “saw something that determined — they believed it to be suspicious and not a natural death,” Winderweedle said. “And also, the age of the child’s death played into that. An 8-year-old dying inside the home is not a normal occurrence.”

Three other children who lived in the home were placed in protective custody, police said Thursday.

Authorities said additional details about the case are confidential under Georgia laws that protect records of child abuse. The child’s biological mother, whose name was not released, had not been notified of the death as of Thursday, police said.

The medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

— Staff writer David Aaro contributed to this article.