The sick mother of an 8 year old boy in California has pleaded guilty to a murder charge after it was shown in court that she routinely beat, starved and tortured the boy, along with her 37 year old boyfriend.
Local media reported this week that under a plea agreement, Pearl Fernandez will be sentenced to life in prison without any chance of parole for the 2013 torture and murder of Gabriel Fernandez. The 34 year old woman pleaded guilty to first degree murder and a special circumstance allegation of murder involving torture. She will be sentenced in June.
Her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, was convicted in 2017 on the same charge. Jurors recommended he be executed when he is sentenced in March. During that trial, state prosecutors told the jury that Gabriel was beaten, shot with a BB gun, forced to eat cat feces and slept while bound and gagged in a cabinet. The deputy district attorney on the case said Aguirre is a sick and evil man who enjoyed torturing the child. He tortured the boy for months before he died. His defense attorney attempted to argue that the boy’s murder was not premeditated, but he was eventually convicted of first degree murder, not second degree murder.
Prosecutors say Aguirre hated the boy because he suspected he was gay. The prosecution asked what type of man would torture a child, and noted that the man had no goodness in him at all. The prosecutor said that the case was not about drugs or mental health problems. He said the man abused the boy because he did not like him. Aguirre’s attorney argued that while his client did kill the boy, he did not premeditate the crime.
Aguirre was 6 foot 2 inches tall and weighed 270 lbs when he was arrested. Gabriel was 4 foot 1 inches tall and was 60 pounds at his death. He routinely beat and starved the boy and would throw him against walls so hard that indentations were left.
The man’s public defender stated that Aguirre’s violence was part of what Fernandez did to the boy as well. He said that Fernandez was abusive, violent and neglected her children before she ever met her boyfriend.
Prosecutors also alleged that two social workers in Los Angeles County – Stephanie Rodriguez and Patricia Clement – were negligent in the case. Charges of child abuse and records falsification were filed against them last week. Those cases will proceed next month.
Child Endured Months of Abuse and Starvation
Gabriel was found passed out in his Palmdale, California home in May 2013. His injuries included a cracked skull, broken ribs, burns and BB pellets buried in his arms. One also was found in his lung. He was declared brain dead and was taken off life support a few days later.
The state prosecutor said that the boy’s life was full of abuse and humiliation. He alleged during the trial that Fernandez and her boyfriend conspired to torture the child to death. The boy moved in with his mother in 2012 after he had lived with his grandparents. The prosecution showed pictures of the child when he was seven years old when he lived with the grandparents. He appeared to be a happy and healthy child.
Gabriel’s 16 year old brother testified in court about the horrific abuse the boy endured from Aguirre. Gabriel was beaten every day and was gagged and bound without water or food for hours in a cabinet. The older boy alleged that the couple would laugh as they beat the child and tortured him. He also said that Aguirre and his mother would force him to eat rotten food and would make him eat his own vomit.
The state prosecutor showed the jury a photo of Gabriel lying in a hospital bed. After he had lived with the couple for eight months, his body was severely battered, beaten and bruises. News reports stated that the evidence and testimony in the trial left the jury and courtroom observers stunned and in tears.
The prosecutor stated that Aguirre would sleep in a comfortable bed at night and had plenty of food to eat, while Gabriel was starved with his hands tied and ankles handcuffed. He also alleged that the large man kicked and punched the boy enough to dent the walls of the apartment and leave the boy passed out. With the help of the mother, they hid the child’s bloody clothes and moved a picture to cover up one of the biggest dents in the wall before they called 911.
There was no evidence that he or the mother intended to save Gabriel. He told jurors that the defendant lied to the 911 person and paramedics who came to the scene. The prosecutor also accused the couple of taking the boy from the grandparents so they could collect the welfare payments.
Hatami, the prosecutor, recalled past testimony about a medical excuse they used to explain Gabriel not being in school. The note was forged by the mother and boyfriend. The prosecutor said that this documentation, also with the couple telling the school the boy had moved away, showed that what they did was premeditated.
Hatami said that there were text messages between the pair in the month they boy died. One of them was Aguirre telling Fernandez to not give the boy attention and that he would handle the problem. Two days later, Hatami said that Aguirre sent her a text that he was studying murder cases online.
His defense attorney stated that the man should only be convicted of second degree murder because the boy’s death was not premeditated. She argued that the man got angry because Gabriel had asked his mom to leave her boyfriend, and then he denied saying it. Aguirre exploded in anger and beat him severely. This was the beating that eventually led to them calling 911.