Prosecutors to seek death penalty against mother, boyfriend in torture, killing of her son

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office will seek the death penalty against a mother and her boyfriend, who are accused of torturing her 8-year-old son to death, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Gabriel Fernandez died in May 2013. His mother, Pearl Fernandez, 31, and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, 35, were indicted by a grand jury on a charge of murder and a special circumstance of torture.


For the Record


1:24 p.m.: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to Isauro Aguirre as Gabriel Fernandez’s father. Aguirre is the boyfriend of Gabriel’s mother, Pearl Fernandez.


Grand jury testimony revealed that Pearl Fernandez had called 911 after she and Aguirre allegedly beat Gabriel for not picking up his toys. After the beating, the boy went silent and stopped responding. When paramedics arrived, they found Gabriel naked in a bedroom, not breathing, with a cracked skull, three broken ribs and BB pellets embedded in his lung and groin. He died two days later.

“It was just like every inch of this child had been abused,” testified James Cermak, a Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedic.

Fernandez and Aguirre have pleaded not guilty.

Gabriel’s death sparked a larger probe into the county Department of Children and Family Services, which found that there was a long history of reports of abuse in the Fernandez home.

In the months before the boy was killed, several agencies had investigated allegations of abuse without removing him from the home.

Staff writers Garrett Therolf and Soumya Karlamangla contributed to this report.

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