Mother of 8-Year-Old Gabriel Fernandez Who Was Tortured to Death Pleads Guilty to Murder
The mother of Gabriel Fernandez, who died after he was brutally beaten and starved, pled guilty to first-degree murder Thursday
Pearl Fernandez, 34, admitted in a Los Angeles courtroom that her son’s 2013 death was intentional and involved torture, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
She faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when she is scheduled to be sentenced on June 7.
Gabriel was found unconscious in his Palmdale, California, home on May 22, 2013, naked, with a cracked skull, shattered ribs, severe burns and BB pellets buried in his body — one was also found in his lung.
He was declared brain-dead and taken off of life support two days later.
Jon Hatami, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney, had argued that Aguirre frequently abused and tortured Gabriel because he thought the boy was gay.
“This wasn’t about drugs. This wasn’t about mental health issues,” Hatami said during his opening statement. Rather, he said, Aguirre abused Gabriel “because he didn’t like him… he believed Gabriel was gay and to him, that was a bad thing… he did it out of hatred of a little boy.”
Aguirre’s attorney, Michael Sklar, told the jury that while his client killed Gabriel, there was no premeditation, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
Instead, the 37-year-old “acted in a rage of anger followed by an explosion of violence” after allegedly learning Gabriel wanted his mother to end their relationship.
Aguirre stood at 6 feet 2 inches tall at the time of his arrest and weighed 270 pounds, while Gabriel was 4 foot 1 inches tall and weighed 59 pounds.
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Gabriel’s life was full of humiliation and systematic abuse, according to Hatami, who alleged Aguirre and Pearl were “conspiring together to deceive everyone in order to torture Gabriel to death,” the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
Hatami said Gabriel moved in with his mother and Aguirre in 2012 after living with his grandparents. He showed jurors a photo of Gabriel at 7-years-old, when he lived with his grandparents, and described him as a “happy and healthy” child.
Gabriel’s 16-year-old brother, Ezequiel, testified in horrific detail about the abuse the boy suffered at the hands of Aguirre.
According to Ezequiel’s testimony, Gabriel was beaten daily and was forced to eat cat feces and cat litter. Ezequiel also told the jury that his brother suffered regular beatings, allegedly at the hands of Aguirre and his mother, and was gagged and bound without food or water for hours in a small, locked cabinet he called the “box.”
The couple would allegedly laugh during the beatings, Ezequiel testified.
He also testified that Aguirre and his mother would allegedly force Gabriel to eat rotten food — and when he threw it up, they would make him eat his own vomit.