A man accused in the beating and torture death of an 8-year-old boy he and his mother perceived to be gay, has rejected a plea deal to murder charges that would have avoided him the death penalty.
KNBC-TV reports that Isauro Aguirre has not agreed to the deal that calls for life in prison without the possibility of parole and no appeals. The plan was for Aguirre and his ex-girlfriend, Pearl Fernandez, to plead guilty to first degree murder and torture charges in the 2013 death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez.
Court documents made public in August revealed that Gabriel was doused with pepper spray, forced to eat his own vomit and locked in a cabinet with a sock stuffed in his mouth to muffle his screams.
Testimony also indicated that Gabriel was beat with bats, a club which knocked out his teeth, was shot with a BB gun, and was whipped with the metal part of a belt over eight months.
His siblings said Gabriel was often called gay, punished because he played with dolls and was forced to wear girls’ clothes to school.
Gabriel died in May 2013, days after he was hospitalized with injuries including a cracked skull, broken ribs and burns.
The defendants have until a Dec. 3 court hearing to accept the deal or not and go to trial on murder charges. The plea deal was officially submitted in court on Thursday.
According to court documents, Gabriel remained with his mother and Aguirre despite several investigations by social workers. The incident prompted calls for sweeping reforms to the troubled Los Angeles County foster-care system because child welfare workers failed to remove the boy.
Gabriel’s maternal grandfather has filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit against the county and the Department of Children and Family Services.