According to many reports at the time, he was tortured over and over because the boyfriend believed Gabriel to be gay.
Not only were the duo prosecuted for their crimes, but charges were brought against four social workers who had checked on Gabriel over months and months but appeared to have done nothing to help Gabriel.
“Looking away when you have the power to make a difference – that is true evil.”
Witness an unflinching look at the case that put the system on trial. On Netflix now.
In a downtown Los Angeles courtroom, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez admitted that the 2013 killing of her son Gabriel was intentional and involved the infliction of torture.
Her guilty plea avoided a trial, where prosecutors were expected to seek the death penalty. Fernandez’s defense lawyers had opposed capital punishment, arguing that her low IQ made her ineligible for death row. A judge is scheduled to sentence her June 7 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Shackled at the waist and wearing a jail-issued smock, Fernandez, 34, spoke in a faint, muted voice on Thursday as she accepted the conditions of the plea agreement.
“You will never be paroled. You will never be released from prison,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Jon Hatami told her. “Do you understand and agree to this?”
“Yes,” said Fernandez as her lawyer, Deputy Alternate Public Defender Julia Dixon, comforted her.
On May 22, 2013, young Gabriel was found by paramedics in an unconscious state. He had a cracked skull, broken ribs, his skin was burned and bruised, he was missing teeth and BB pellets were found in his groin. He died two days later.
The investigation into Gabriel’s death revealed massive lapses by L.A. county social workers who visited the boy’s home six times but never took action despite physical evidence of torture.
Fernandez and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, both brutalized young Gabriel for months leading up to his death. The 8-year-old was forced to sleep in a cabinet bound and gagged, eat his own vomit and cat feces, and was beaten with a belt over and over.
Aguirre was convicted of first-degree murder on Nov. 1. The jury recommended the death penalty. Aguirre will be sentenced on March 8.
More on my reporting of the tragic events surrounding Gabriel’s death here.
Jurors on Wednesday voted for the death penalty for a man convicted of fatally torturing his girlfriend’s young son — a savage slaying that led to sweeping reform within Los Angeles County’s child-welfare system.
The verdict ended a murder trial in which jurors heard and saw disturbing evidence about how 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez suffered repeated abuse at the hands of Isauro Aguirre, 37, who stared ahead expressionless as he heard the pronouncement.
When paramedics arrived at the boy’s Palmdale home on May 22, 2013, Gabriel was unconscious and had a cracked skull, broken ribs, burned and bruised skin, missing teeth and BB pellets lodged in his groin. He died two days later after being removed from life support.
During closing arguments in the penalty phase of Aguirre’s trial, Deputy Dist. Atty. Jonathan Hatami told jurors that in the months leading up to the boy’s death, the defendant had reveled in his brutalization, forcing Gabriel to eat cat feces and his own vomit. The boy slept in a small cabinet, the prosecutor said, with his ankles handcuffed, his hands bound and his mouth gagged with a sock.