Gabriel Fernandez should have turned 13 earlier this year. Instead, his mother and her boyfriend have been sentenced, respectively, to life in prison and death for the boy’s torture and murder in 2013, when he was 8.
Since Gabriel’s death, the abuse suffered by the young boy and the numerous missed warning signs by child welfare workers in Los Angeles County have prompted expressions of outrage by our letter writers. The county’s Department of Children and Family Services has borne the brunt of this criticism over the years, but with the sentencing Thursday of Pearl Sinthia Fernandez and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, most of our letter writers have expressed their deep sadness over the situation generally or directed their anger at the two people who were supposed to care for Gabriel.
We’ve heard a lot from our letter writers over these last five years about Gabriel, sometimes even in response to articles that do not mention his case but touch on topics related to child welfare and abuse. It’s safe to say that the 8-year-old Antelope Valley boy who suffered unspeakable harm occupies a place in our readers’ consciousness — and that this will not be the final time his name is mentioned on the letters page.
Mary Novak of Altadena wants Los Angeles County to protect children more aggressively:
Please, can we take some immediate simple measures to protect children at risk?
While I understand that the social workers in the county’s Department of Children and Family Services have large caseloads and that reforms are in progress, a full-time paramedic should be assigned to the agency and be part of any child welfare assessment. If a paramedic says there is some evidence of abuse or neglect, then the child will be evaluated by a medical team, regardless of the opinion of the caseworker or the law enforcement officer who happens to be on the scene.
This is an area where there is no room for mistakes.
Scott Hughes of Westlake Village compares Gabriel’s circumstances to his mother’s and her boyfriend’s:
So the mother gets life in prison without the possibility of parole and the boyfriend who tortured and killed Gabriel gets sentenced to death. Poor Gabriel got nothing.
This case tears my soul apart. Why are humans so awful?
Mindy Taylor-Ross of Venice dismisses the mother’s defense:
The mother’s defense that she was abused and had the verbal comprehension expected of a child in the second grade does not make sense. Even a 7-year-old child with a second-grade education ought to know the difference between right and wrong, especially in a case like this. The mother’s low intelligence is not a valid defense for how horribly this child was treated.
Temecula resident Susan Stann hopes the sentences will be carried out:
After five long years, there may finally be some justice for Gabriel Fernandez. I just hope the sentences for his mother and her boyfriend pan out — meaning, she actually lives the rest of her life in prison and he is executed.
Sadly, even that would not bring the poor child back.