A 30-year-old Los Angeles mother and her 34-year-old boyfriend are behind bars this week, awaiting trial on charges of capital murder and torture after brutally murdering her 8-year-old son over a pile of misplaced toys.
The horrific details of how Pearl Fernandez and Isauro Aguirre systematically tortured and humiliated Fernandez’s son Gabriel were made public on Monday.
Aside from their relentless bullying under assumption that Gabriel was gay, allegations from more than 800 pages of testimony describe in full detail the hellish life that young Gabriel endured before his untimely death. “For eight straight months, he was abused, beaten and tortured more severely than many prisoners of war,” Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami testified.
Here are just a few more things Fernandez and Aguirre did to Gabriel before murdering him in May 2013, according to testimony provided by Gabriel’s siblings, police, and the medical examiner who performed Gabriel’s autopsy:
- assaulted him with pepper spray
- forced him to eat his own vomit, cat feces and rotten spinach
- locked him in a cabinet with a sock used as a makeshift gag
- forged doctor’s notes to explain Gabriel’s physical signs of abuse to teachers
- denied him use of the bathroom
- called him “gay,” beat him when he played with dolls and forced him to wear “girls’ clothes” to school
- beat his head with a belt buckle, metal hanger, small bat and wooden club
- knocked several of his teeth out with a metal bat
- shot him with a BB gun
According to Gabriel’s younger siblings, both of whom are minors, the attack that turned fatal was sparked when Gabriel refused to pick up his toys. Based on testimony and the medial examiner’s report, that’s when Fernandez and Aguirre dragged Gabriel into the bedroom and killed him with “blunt force trauma” to the head.
Fernandez reportedly called 911 to report that her son was “not breathing.” When paramedics arrived, they discovered the boy stripped naked, covered in blood, with a cracked skull, three broken ribs and BB pellets in his lung and groin. “It was just like every inch of this child had been abused,” first responder James Cermak testified. James Kemp Ribe of the LA county coroner’s office added: “I have never seen this many skin injuries on one child.”
Perhaps the only thing more disturbing than the abuse Gabriel suffered was the fact that his case went unnoticed by the LA County foster care system. According to reports, Gabriel’s case worker ignored abuse in the home, never checked his body for signs of abuse and failed to investigate reports of abuse from concerned teachers.
Official court documents also reveal that Gabriel had previously written a suicide note that was discovered by a teacher. The note was dismissed by social workers and police because there “appeared to be” no abuse in the home.