Jurors vote for death penalty for man who tortured and killed eight-year-old he thought was gay
Jurors have voted for the death penalty for a man who brutally tortured and killing an eight-year-old who he thought he was gay.
Isauro Aguirre, 37, was convicted last month of the first-degree murder of Gabriel Fernandez, who he terrorised over the course of eight months.
During that period, Aguirre was going out with Gabriel’s mother, Pearl Fernandez, who has pleaded not guilty ahead of her separate trial over her son’s death.
The jury forewoman gave a statement in court about the deliberations, which lasted around seven hours over three days, according to The LA Times.
“We were plucked out of our everyday lives and brought together to serve,” she said. “We came together to bring justice for Gabriel.”
The court had heard how Aguirre’s inhumane torture of the 4’1″ child including beating, whipping, shooting and starving him, as well as feeding him cat faeces and his own vomit.
Detective Elliot Uribe told the court that the suffering inflicted on Gabriel constituted “the worst injuries I’ve ever seen on a child.”
When the penalty was read out, Gabriel’s father sat solemnly, staring at the courtroom floor.
As he walked out, he locked eyes with a sheriff’s detective who investigated the case. “Thank you,” he whispered.
The detective nodded, patting the parent on the back.
Criminalists said during the trial that Aguirre had repeatedly slammed Gabriel’s head into the walls of their home, causing hundreds of blood stains and dents.
The victim’s teenage siblings also testified, causing jurors to sob uncontrollably as they described the horrific torture they had seen.
Ezequiel, 16, and Virginia, 14, said Aguirre shot Gabriel in the face and groin with a BB gun and beat him daily using wire hangers and a belt buckle.
He was also pepper sprayed and bound and forced into a tiny cubby for long periods, they said.
Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami called the 6’2″, 270-pound Aguirre “evil” during the trial, adding that he “got off on” torturing Gabriel.
“No human with a heart and soul could do that to an innocent little boy,” he told jurors before their deliberations, arguing that Aguirre hated Gabriel because he thought he was gay.
As Hatami reminded the jury of the abuse which the eight-year-old suffered, two jurors wept softly and several shut their eyes.
He asked them to “show the defendant the exact same mercy he showed Gabriel.”
Mercy was also on Deputy Public Defender John Alan’s mind as he called on the jury to sentence his client to life in prison without parole, rather than death.
He said: “Mercy isn’t something that’s ever earned. It’s something that is freely granted.”
When the jurors’ vote was revealed, the prosecutor had a tissue in his hand, and seemed to be holding back tears.
Outside the courthouse, one juror – who wanted to be known only as a 25-year-old working in social media, said that capital punishment still didn’t seem like “enough justice.”
She added that during the trial, she thought of Gabriel every day, when she woke up and when she went to sleep.
The photos shown to the jury of his small, tortured body – with many bruises and blood on his neck – would stay with her forever, she said.
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.”
The social workers have pleaded not guilty.
Aguirre is set to be sentenced on March 8.