The shocking case of an 8-year-old boy murdered by his mother and her boyfriend because they thought he was gay has become even more disturbing. Gabriel Fernandez lived a life filled with pain and fear, prosecutors told the jury and witness after witness has documented the torture that consumed his life.
Fernandez’s mother and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, are charged with murder in the case. Four social workers who “investigated” allegations of abuse but didn’t remove him from the home have been charged with child abuse and other charges.
His siblings told jurors last week that Fernandez was forced to eat cat feces, spoiled food, and when he got sick from eating it, his own vomit. He was also bound and forced into a box for extended periods, pepper sprayed, and beaten daily.
Aguirre would shoot Fernandez with a BB gun in the face and groin, beat him with wire hangers and a belt buckle, pin him against the wall by the neck until he passed out according to Fernandez’s older brother. His sister recounted the night he was killed and several jurors broke down in tears when she told them her mother had punched the child’s two front teeth.
Criminal specialists and investigators took the stand yesterday and their testimony only added to the horrors told to the jury.
Criminalist Tiffany Shew showed jurors photos of the apartment where hundreds of blood stains and indentations on the walls were found. The dents were from Aguirre slamming Fernandez’s head into the wall. There were so many marks on the wall, Shew testified that she ran out of evidence stickers to mark them all.
Forensic testing found Fernandez’s blood on numerous items in the home, including a baseball bat, a wooden club, and computer cords. His DNA was also found inside a cupboard where the two adults kept him, bound and gagged for hours without food, water, or the ability to go to the bathroom.
Another criminologist, Stephan Schliebe, confirmed that Fernandez was fed cat feces, saying the contents of the boy’s stomach resembled a kitty litter sample with feces and litter mixed together to fill a large part of his abdomen.
Registered Nurse Alison Segal testified to the extent of Fernandez’s injuries when he was brought to the hospital after being beaten so badly he lost consciousness and didn’t wake up. She told the jury that she did not have time to do a “comprehensive assessment” because his injuries were so severe he was immediately rushed to a children’s hospital where he died.
Segal graphically described the boy’s injuries she observed, saying his genitals had been damaged, his skull was cracked, three ribs were broken, his front teeth were missing, patches of skin that were missing, burned, or bruised, and he had BB pellets embedded in his lungs and groin.
In March, four social workers were charged with child abuse and other charges for their roles in allowing the boy to suffer and die. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Lou Villar said that “red flags were everywhere,” but the social workers failed to file timely reports and mishandled evidence. Villar described their actions as “criminal negligence.”
All four social workers, Aguirre, and the child’s mother have all pled not guilty. Aguirre and Fernandez’s could face the death penalty.