Mother pleads guilty to torturing 8-year-old to death because her boyfriend thought he was gay
A mother has pleaded guilty to the murder of her eight-year-old son who she tortured to death because her boyfriend thought he was gay.
Pearl Sinthia Fernandez killed her son Gabriel in May 2013 with the help of her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre.
He was found naked at their home in Palmdale, Los Angeles, with a fractured skull, broken ribs and burns.
He died two days after he was found.
A court heard how the couple beat their son, shot him with a BB gun, fed him cat litter and faeces and kept him bound and gagged for days at a time.
They also called him gay and forced him to wear typically female clothing to school.
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.
Aguirre had repeatedly slammed Gabriel’s head into the walls of their home, causing hundreds of blood stains and dents.
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”.
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.
Fernandez filed her guilty plea yesterday (February 15).
Aguirre was convicted of first-degree murder in November last year.
A jury recommended the death sentence be handed to him, but the sentencing hearing will not take place until March 8.
Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami, who heard his case, said that 37-year-old Aguirre’s horrifying actions came out of a place of dislike and could not be pinned on mental health issues or substance abuse.
“This wasn’t about drugs. This wasn’t about mental health issues. [Aguirre] did it 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.
“No human with a heart and soul could do that to an innocent little boy,” Hatami said.
The attorney added that the boy’s mother and Aguirre had both “pointed fingers at each other” but ultimately, “they were both culpable”.
Fernandez’s sentence hearing has been scheduled for June 7 and jurors have sought the death sentence for her.
However, her lawyers are arguing that her low IQ should disqualify her from capital punishment.
However, Hatami promised that she would never live life outside of a prison again.
“You will never be paroled. You will never be released from prison. Do you understand and agree to this?” he asked her.
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Emily Carranza, Gabriel’s cousin, said that the ruling “brings relief”.
“I know she’s never going to be out, and I know she’s never going to hurt another child,” Carranza said.
In March 2017, 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 pleaded not guilty.