A Southern California mother of an eight-year-old boy and her then-boyfriend will take a plea deal to avoid the death penalty for murder and torture charges in the boy's death. The boy was allegedly killed because the couple thought he was gay, Los Angeles NBC-affiliate station KNBC reports.
Pearl Fernandez and her former boyfriend Isauro Aguirre will be sentenced to life in prison without parole for pleading guilty to first-degree murder and torture with special circumstances in the death of Fernandez's son, Gabriel Fernandez. They both waived their right for an appeal and will remain in prison for the rest of their lives.
On May 22, 2013, Gabriel Fernandez was found barely breathing in his mother's home in Palmdale, Calif., (north of Los Angeles) and died two days later. Paramedics found the boy naked in his bedroom, with a cracked skull and broken ribs. According to authorities, he showed signs of having been restrained and shot with a BB gun in the groin and other forms of torture. The abuse lasted over the course of eight months.
The Advocate reports the couple called the boy gay, and beat him with belts and baseball bats when caught playing with dolls. They also forced him to eat cat feces and his own vomit, doused him in pepper spray and locked him inside a cabinet with a sock stuffed in his mouth, not even letting him out to use the bathroom. KNBC reports Gabriel Fernandez's teeth were knocked out because of the beatings.
The day after the boy was discovered, his mother and Aguirre were arrested in connection to his death. They were charged with capital murder on May 28, 2013.
Several social workers responded to several reports of abuse from Gabriel Fernandez's teachers and grandfather but they determined he was not at risk - even after social works found a suicide note the boy wrote. They concluded he did not have a specific plan to kill himself. KNBC reports four social workers were discharged in connection with the case.
The boy's maternal grandfather, who took care of Gabriel Fernandez most of his life, has field a civil wrongful death lawsuit against the county and the Department of Children & Families.
From our media partner EDGE