Death penalty, life sentence for couple who killed boy ‘because they thought he was gay’
A Californian mother has been given a life sentence and her boyfriend the death penalty for killing the woman’s eight-year-old son, who they believed was gay.
The Los Angeles County Superior Court heard how Gabriel Fernandez, from Palmdale, was repeatedly beaten, starved, tied up, locked in a cabinet, shot with a BB gun and had his teeth knocked out with a bat.
The boy also had burns on his body, broken ribs and a fractured skull.
The boy’s mother, Pearl Fernandez, 34, pleaded guilty to murder in February in the death of her son.
Her boyfriend, 37-year-old Isauro Aguirre, was found guilty of murder last year after the court found he intentionally tortured the child.
Judge George Lomeli told the couple he hoped what they had done “tortured” them at night.
“It goes without saying that the conduct was horrendous and inhumane and nothing short of evil.
“It’s beyond animalistic because animals know how to take care of their young.”
In 2013, Fernandez called the emergency services to report her son wasn’t breathing and said he had fallen and hit his head on a dresser.
He died two days later of blunt-force trauma and neglect, a coroner’s report said.
The boy’s siblings testified that Fernandez and Aguirre called him “gay” and punished him if he played with dolls.
The couple also forced Gabriel to wear girls’ clothes to school, they said.
In court, Fernandez said she was sorry and wished her son was alive.
A jail chaplain who met with Fernandez told the court that she loved her son and is a different woman today than when she walked into jail.
More from PinkNews
Several agencies investigated abuse allegations leading up to the child’s death.
Investigators concluded there was no evidence of abuse on several occasions.
Prosecutors have since filed charges of child abuse and falsifying records against four county social workers in Gabriel’s death.
Speaking in court, the boy’s teacher Jennifer Garcia said she found comfort in believing he was “at peace.”
“And I know that unlike him, his abusers will never have peace. They will have a lifetime of suffering to endure, and I know I’m not alone in hoping they experience the same abuse in their lifetime and worse,” Garcia said.