Jurors vote for death penalty for killer of 8-year-old Palmdale boy Gabriel Fernandez
The 8-year-old succumbed to his injuries two days after he was removed from life support.
Jurors in Los Angeles on Wednesday voted for the death penalty for a man who was convicted of torturing and killing his girlfriend's 8-year-old son Gabriel Fernandez. The horrific incident led to a sweeping reform within Los Angeles County's child-welfare system.
The years-long murder trial came to an end on Wednesday, where jurors saw disturbing evidence about how the boy from Palmdale suffered frequent abuse at the hands of Isauro Aguirre.
The incident came to light when paramedics arrived at the boy's Palmdale home on May 22, 2013. Gabriel was found unconscious with a cracked skull, broken ribs, burned and bruised skin, missing teeth and BB pellets lodged in his groin.
The 8-year-old succumbed to his injuries two days after he was removed from life support, according to reports.
During the trial of the 37-year-old Isauro Aguirre, Deputy Dist. Atty. Jonathan Hatami told jurors that the defendant had forced Gabriel to eat cat feces and his own vomit. Hatami said that Aguirre enjoyed brutally abusing the boy.
Reports state that the 8-year-old was made to sleep in a small cabinet with his ankles cuffed, his hands bound and his mouth gagged with a sock.
“No human with a heart and soul could do that to an innocent little boy,” Hatami told jurors. He also argued that the accused detested the boy because he suspected that the child was gay, according to Los Angeles Times reports.
The prosecutor also mentioned that the boy was punched in the face with such force that skin was missing from his chin and nose. After hearing the details of the abuse, two of the jurors could be seen crying softly, while several of them closed their eyes.
Hatami also showed the jury autopsy photos of Gabriel’s “head-to-toe” injuries, which a doctor, a nurse, a social worker, a sheriff’s detective and others working with child abuse victims testified to be some of the worst cases of torture ever seen.
“There is nothing worse in our society than a grown man murdering and torturing an innocent little boy,” Hatami told the panel.
The prosecutor then asked the jurors to show "the defendant the exact same mercy he showed Gabriel," according to reports.
While, Deputy Public Defender John Alan said that Aguirre should be shown some mercy, and asked the jurors to sentence him to life instead of a death sentence.
The jury’s recommendation came shortly after the panel heard a read-back of the testimony by William Adams, a consultant who spent more than 26 years working for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He was defense’s final witness.
The Defender told jurors that Aguirre's co-workers, where he worked as a caregiver for elderly people, had testified that they knew him to be "gentle, kind, patient, respectful."
Jurors find Isauro Aguirre guilty of first degree murder in the torture-murder of his girlfriend’s son, 8-yr-old Gabriel Fernandez. Aguirre will get death penalty or life in prison. Penalty phase of trial begins Nov. 27th @FOXLA pic.twitter.com/gStdrfGtRf— MarlaTellez (@MarlaTellez) November 15, 2017
Alan also said that even the sentence of life in prison was "severe" and terrified his client. He also added that the accused possibly had a learning disability.
During the closing arguments in the case last month, Aguirre's other attorney, Deputy Public Defender Michael Sklar, had said that although his client was "completely out of control," he had not attempted to kill the child.
#Aguirre #GabrielFernandez Judge George Lomeli reads instructions to jury before DDA Jonathan Hatami tells jurors given torture and murder of 8 yr old Gabriel Fernandez by Isauro Aguirre, this is appropriate case for death penalty. @KNX1070 pic.twitter.com/Tg7pcbMx6h— Pete Demetriou (@knxpete) December 11, 2017
In November this year in Nevada, Giovanni Melton, 14, was gunned down by his father, Wendell Melton, after an argument about him having a boyfriend. “He hated the fact that his son was gay,” Sonia Jones, the teen’s former foster mom, said. “I’m sure that inside of his mind, he would rather have a dead son than a gay son.”
The case seems quite similar to that of Gabriel Fernandez because in both cases the dads showed anger when it came to the boys' sexual orientation.
In the Gabriel Fernandez case, the attorney said that the accused had acted in a fit of rage and hence was guilty of second-degree murder, not a higher charge than that.
Aguirre was convicted of first-degree murder on November 15 and the allegations that the murder of the boy was committed using torture was also confirmed by the jurors.
Prosecutor gets teary eyed talking about verdict in Gabriel Fernandez case. Isauro Aguirre found guilty of first degree murder. pic.twitter.com/rEn5JWbDNO— Brittny Mejia (@brittny_mejia) November 15, 2017
The boy's death also led to criminal charges against Los Angeles County social workers, who left the boy in the house with his mother Pearl Sinthia Fernandez and her boyfriend. They did so despite six investigations into abuse allegations against Gabriel's mother. Sinthia Fernandez was also charged with murder.
Aguirre and Fernandez have been jailed without bail since being charged in May 2013 with the boy’s death. The two were subsequently indicted by a Los Angeles County grand jury.
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