A mother & her boyfriend whipped, beat, and tortured 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez in a series of horrific attacks. Find out more about the child’s ‘beyond animalistic’ murder here.
Gabriel Fernandez was just 8 years old when he died in May of 2013 in the working class high desert community of Palmdale, north of Los Angeles, according to NBC news. Prosecutors said the boy’s skull was fractured, 12 of his ribs were broken, he was forced to eat cat feces, and that he slept, bound and gagged, in a cabinet. The child’s mother, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, 34, and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre, 37, are responsible for his brutal death.
1. Gabriel’s mom, Pearl Fernandez, was sentenced to life in prison.
While Pearl was sentenced on June 7 to a lifetime in prison, Isauro was given the death penalty. Pearl pleaded guilty to murder back in February and a jury found Isauro guilty of murder last year. The jury also concluded that Isauro had intentionally tortured the boy. Pearl was reportedly expressionless when she addressed the court, reports USA Today, saying she was sorry and wished Gabriel was alive. She also criticized family members who have spoken of their grief over Gabriel, claiming they just want fame.
2. The judge called Gabriel’s murder “beyond animalistic.”
Gabriel was repeatedly beaten, starved, tied up, locked in a cabinet, shot with a BB gun, and he once had his teeth knocked out with a bat, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge George Lomeli said. The boy also had a fractured skull, broken ribs and burns across his body. “I can only wish … that it tortures you,” Judge Lomeli told Pearl and Isauro. “It goes without saying that the conduct was horrendous and inhumane and nothing short of evil,” he continued. “It’s beyond animalistic because animals know how to take care of their young.” In addition, in the months leading up to his death, Gabriel was covered with pepper spray, forced to eat his own vomit, regularly gagged to stop him from speaking, and fed cat litter.
Pearl had called 911 on May 22, 2013, to report that her son wasn’t breathing. At the time, she told responding deputies that he had fallen and hit his head on a dresser. Gabriel ended up dying two days later of blunt-force trauma and neglect, the coroner’s office found.
3. Gabriel was tortured because his mom and Isauro believed he was gay.
Pearl and Isauro would call the boy gay, punish him if he played with dolls, and even forced him to wear girls’ clothes to school.
4. Gabriel has siblings who testified during the trial.
Gabriel’s siblings, his brother Ezequiel, who was 12 at the time and is now aged 16, and sister Virginia, who was 11 at the time and is now aged 14, are the ones who testified that Pearl and Isauro would call the boy gay. Ezequiel said Isauro would punch and kick Gabriel and pick him up by the neck until he passed out. He also would reportedly beat Gabriel with a buckle and metal hanger while he was naked.
In addition, Gabriel’s first-grade teacher, Jennifer Garcia, tearfully addressed the court and said she thinks of him every day and how he just wanted to be loved. “I find comfort in believing he is now at peace,” she said. “And I know that unlike him, his abusers will never have peace. They will have a lifetime of suffering to endure, and I know I’m not alone in hoping they experience the same abuse in their lifetime and worse.”
5. Abuse allegations were investigated prior to Gabriel’s death.
As sad as it is, while several agencies investigated abuse allegations leading up to Gabriel’s death, nothing was ever done to protect the child. In fact, on several occasions, investigators concluded there was no evidence of abuse. As a result, two social workers and supervisors have been fired after missing multiple chances to save Gabriel.