Eight-year-old allegedly killed for being gay told teacher: ‘My mum makes me bleed’
An eight-year-old allegedly killed by his mother’s boyfriend because he thought the child was gay told his teacher he was suffering abuse.
Isauro Aguirre used torture methods to kill Gabriel Fernandez, including beating, whipping, shooting and starving him, the prosecution has said.
Gabriel’s teenage siblings Ezequiel and Virginia caused jurors to sob uncontrollably as they described horrific torture which they said Gabriel had suffered.
Ezequiel, 16, said Aguirre shot Gabriel with a BB gun in the face and groin and beat him using wire hangers and a belt buckle.
Gabriel’s first grade teacher Jennifer Garcia testified to the Los Angeles court that the boy had told her about physical abuse which matched these allegations months before he died.
In early 2013, he told Garcia that he was being beaten at home, information which the teacher immediately reported to the Department of Children and Family Services, abc7 has reported.
The court heard a recording of a call Garcia made to the authorities, in which she says that Gabriel told her: “Sometimes my mom makes me bleed.
“I said: ‘Where do you bleed?’ and he says: ‘Well, on my bottom ’cause she hits me with a belt.’
“And he says, ‘you know that part with the metal on it? That part.'”
The teacher told the court that over the next few months, she saw multiple bruises, burns, wounds and other injuries on the child.
She also said that Gabriel came to school wearing girls’ clothes.
The prosecution had earlier accused Aguirre of forcing the child to wear pink leggings and a dress to the school.
Garcia told the court that as time went by, Gabriel became withdrawn and angry.
She said that at one point, after questioning him for a while, “he did eventually tell me – and he was really angry – and he said: ‘Well, it’s cause my mom shot me in the face with a BB gun.'”
The teacher told the court that after making multiple calls to the authorities, she realised that it was leading to Gabriel being abused more.
“I didn’t want to call. I didn’t know what to do,” she said.
“I don’t know how I could look at his face and not be able to assure him that that wasn’t going to happen again when I couldn’t say that.”
When Gabriel was absent for school for several days, Garcia was told he had gone to stay with relatives in Texas.
About a week later, Gabriel was dead.
In March, four social workers were charged with child abuse for their roles in Gabriel’s death, with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Lou Villar saying that “red flags were everywhere.”
Villar said that the social workers mishandled evidence and failed to file timely reports, describing their actions as “criminal negligence.”
The social workers have pleaded not guilty.
After his death, Garcia found a shakily written note hidden in Gabriel’s desk.
She read the message to the court, saying: “I love you mom and Gabriel is a good boy,”
Gabriel’s mother Pearl Fernandez is being tried separately.
Both she and Aguirre, who have pleaded not guilty, could face the death penalty.
The court earlier heard how forensic testing revealed that Gabriel’s blood was on multiple items in his home, including a wooden club, a baseball bat and computer cords.
His DNA was also discovered inside the cubby where Aguirre and his mother allegedly kept him bound and gagged for long periods without food or water, even if he needed the toilet.
Stephan Schliebe, a criminologist, backed up the prosecution’s allegation that Gabriel was fed cat litter, adding that he was also forced to eat cat poo.
Schliebe said the contents of the eight-year-old’s stomach resembled a kitty litter sample, with a mixture of poo and litter filling a large part of his abdomen.
Alison Segal, a registered nurse, told the jury that Gabriel’s injuries were so severe when he was brought to hospital before dying that she didn’t have time to perform a “comprehensive assessment”.
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She said that Gabriel had damaged genitals, a cracked skull, missing front teeth, three broken ribs and patches of skin which were missing, burned or bruised.
He also had BB pellets embedded in his lungs and groin, Segal said.
Gabriel’s brother Ezequiel had previously testified that Aguirre shot Gabriel with a BB gun in the face and groin.
Watch the latest report on the trial here: