Gabriel Fernandez was a Palmdale teenager accused of being murdered by his mother and her boyfriend. A young boy’s shocking 2013 murder captured the nation’s attention and prompted a re-examination of a system that failed to protect him, which has now been turned into a riveting Netflix docu-series.
Robert and Sandra Fernandez, Pearl Fernandez’s parents, raised him. Furthermore, not only did they raise Gabriel, but also all three of Pearl’s children; in 2009, Ezequiel and Virginia moved in with Pearl, and Gabriel stayed with them until 2012.
He was eight years old when he was murdered in May 2013 by his mother Pearl Sinthia Fernandez and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre, allegedly because Aguirre suspected the young boy was gay.
Isauro Aguirre and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre are currently on death row in California’s San Quentin State Prison. On Wednesday, Netflix will release a six-part docu-series examining how both Gabriel’s family and the justice system failed an eight-year-old boy named Gabriel Fernandez.
He died at the age of eight.
He was discovered dead in 2013 following repeated abuse at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend. The details of Gabriel’s torture and death are graphic in the new Netflix show, and viewers may struggle with certain parts of the mini-series.
Aguirre and Fernandez were forced to call 911 for assistance one early morning in May 2013, following a particularly brutal beating. The naked youngster was discovered with unmistakable signs of abuse and was rushed to the hospital, where he died two days later. Aguirre and Fernandez were then arrested, charged, and convicted of murder.
Pearl arrived in 2009 and took Ezequiel and Virginia with her to California, leaving Gabriel with his grandparents.
Ezequiel and Virginia’s lives began to spiral downward shortly after they moved in with their mother.
Pearl’s carelessness knew no bounds. Her relative and neighbor accused her of malnutrition and the car accident in which Ezequiel was injured.
When Gabriel turned 7, Pearl fought for custody of the boy, despite her initial denials. All of the relatives, including Gabriel’s father, Arnold Contreras, had second thoughts about giving Pearl custody of Gabriel.
However, Gabriel’s nightmare began in 2012, when his mother was granted custody of him regardless. Pearl was dating a man named Isauro Aguirre at the time.
Jennifer Garcia, Gabriel’s teacher, was the first person to notice signs of abuse. As the signs of abuse became more severe, she reported them several times to Los Angeles County’s child abuse hotline. The caseworkers discovered no compelling reason to terminate Pearl Fernandez’s custodial rights.
On 22 May 2013, Los Angeles police officers received a 911 call from a woman reporting that her child had fallen and hit his head on the dresser, and was not breathing. Soon afterward, first responder Los Angeles Fire Department paramedic James Sharmack entered the house and discovered little Gabriel unconscious and suffering from several signs of physical torture.
Following the commotion, he was rushed to the hospital and declared brain dead.
After a thorough examination of his body, it was discovered that he had broken ribs, a fractured skull, several bruises and burns, and BB gun pellets in his body.
On 24 May 2013, he was removed from life support and breathed his final breath.
Arnold, Gabriel’s imprisoned father, was devastated by the news of his son’s death. Arnold was denied access to his deceased son’s body in the hospital.
Contreras, Gabriel’s siblings, and a few other relatives testified against Pearl and Aguirre in the case.
Virginia and Ezequiel’s testimonies revealed details that were too harrowing to imagine.
According to the siblings, Pearl and Aguirre’s primary motivation for torturing and murdering each other was their homophobic nature. Gabriel was frequently exploited for his apparent feminine characteristics and was dubbed “gay.”
Gabriel was frequently smothered and bound and then locked inside the cubby to conceal him before being brutally tortured to death.
They forced-fed him rotten food, cat litter, and even his vomit as Ezequiel continued to unfold the unthinkable, he stated. They used to light cigarettes directly on his skin, whip him with a belt buckle or baseball bat, and even shoot him with a BB Gun.
The abuse was severe and occurred within eight months of Pearl obtaining custody of Gabriel.
Gabriel frequently wrote notes stating that he intended to commit suicide and that all he ever desired was to be a good boy. He wrote a card to Pearl a few days before he died, listing all the things he admired about her.
As the trial progressed, attorneys for both accused, Pearl and Aguirre, asserted their clients’ defense. Fernandez was defended on the grounds of mental illness and a low IQ as a result of her abuse and assault history.
Meanwhile, Aguirre’s attorney attempted to get him out of jail by claiming he had a learning disability. Numerous people who knew Aguirre were in attendance at his trial. They expressed shock at the news of him torturing children, as they knew him to be a gentle soul.
Both Pearl and Aguirre were convicted of first-degree murder, as were four caseworkers.
Pearl Fernandez was sentenced to life in prison without parole after her two eldest children, Virginia and Ezequiel, refused to testify against her. Whereas Isauro Aguirre was sentenced to death after jurors convicted him of torturing Gabriel with the intent to murder.
Concerning the Caseworkers, they were terminated due to their negligence in handling Gabriel’s case.
An appellate panel ruled in 2020 that the indicted social workers should not face charges in connection with Gabriel Fernandez’s death.