Crime Gabriel Fernandez's Grandfather Sobs In Court As He Recalls Promise to Slain Boy to Care for Him Robert Fernandez said he practically raised Gabriel and that he loved him like a son By Chris Harris Chris Harris Twitter Chris Harris has been a senior true crime reporter for PEOPLE since late 2015. An award-winning journalist who has worked for Rolling Stone and MTV News, Chris enjoys prog rock, cycling, Marvel movies, IPAs, and roller coasters. People Editorial Guidelines Published on October 31, 2017 03:38 PM Share Tweet Pin Email On Monday, the grandfather of Gabriel Fernandez — the 8-year-old California boy who was allegedly tortured and murdered in 2013 — tearfully testified about the last time he spoke to the boy and the promise he made but could not keep. Robert Fernandez, according to KTLA, testified for the prosecution in the murder trial of Isauro Aguirre, Gabriel’s mother’s boyfriend. Prosecutors alleged that Aguirre abused and ultimately killed the boy because he believed Gabriel was gay. Identical allegations have been made against the murdered child’s mother, Pearl Fernandez, who is being tried separately at a later date. Robert Fernandez, who along with his wife had previously taken care of Gabriel, broke down Monday as he recalled the last time he heard Gabriel’s voice — during a phone call that came months after his daughter and Aguirre allegedly took the boy into their own home. • Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter. “He said he wanted to come home. I told him that…the DCFS was investigating the case and I couldn’t bring him home, but that they were, one of these days, going to bring him home,” the grandfather said, according to CBS Los Angeles. “And I promised that to him.” Gabriel died from a skull fracture, shattered ribs and severe burns. Buried in his skin were BB pellets; one was also found in his lung. Facebook Aguirre, 37, and Fernandez, 34, have both pleaded not guilty to murder charges. Both defendants face a possible death sentence. Robert Fernandez told the court he practically raised Gabriel, reports ABC7, and that he loved him like a son. “We had custody of him,” Robert testified. “I didn’t think Pearl wanted him.” The grandfather testified that Aguirre called saying he wanted to take Gabriel to a barbecue, promising to return him in time for school the next day. But the child was never brought back. • PEOPLE’s special edition True Crime Stories: 35 Real Cases That Inspired the Show Law & Order is on sale now. After that, Fernandez said he only saw Gabriel a few times before learning of his death, according to ABC 7. Gabriel’s grandfather will resume his testimony Tuesday. The child’s aunt will also testify Tuesday. Last week, Gabriel’s teacher took the stand and spoke about her attempts to bring the boy’s alleged abuse to light. Trial dates have not yet been scheduled for Stefanie Rodriguez, 32, Patricia Clement, 66, Kevin Bom, 37, and Gregory Merritt, 61 — four Los Angeles County social workers who have been charged with child abuse and falsifying records stemming from Gabriel’s death. They have all pleaded not guilty, and judge order them to stand trial this spring. PEOPLE was unable to reach the attorneys representing Aguirre and Fernandez for comment.