Mother And Boyfriend Are Indicted On Capital Murder Charges
Fernandez, 30, and Aguirre, 34, are in jail awaiting trial on charges of capital murder and a special circumstance of torture. They have both pleaded not guilty.
With the indictment, a grand jury report released this week provided shocking testimony given not only by first responders but from Gabriel’s siblings who described the house of horrors and torture inflicted on the little boy.
It details heinous abuse the boy suffered during the eight months that he lived with his mother and her boyfriend, all the way up to the fatal blows that would end his life.
Ezequiel, Gabriel’s older brother, testified that Gabriel was the only one of the four children who had to suffer the abuse. If he tried to help Gabriel, his mother would hit him and he and the other children were fearful.
The report indicates that Gabriel was pepper sprayed, locked in a closet with a sock stuffed in his mouth to muffle his screams, kicked until unconscious, hit with a baseball bat, forced to eat cat feces and rotten food, and had to eat his own vomit if he threw up.
Extended family members, that include Gabriel’s cousin Emily Carranza, are having a difficult time hearing the graphic details of the torture.
“I feel sad because Gabriel would’ve been 9 years old and would have been starting fourth grade and school this week just the same way that my own son is,” Carranza said.
Carranza, a Sylmar redisent, also reviewed the report in court records this week.
“I can’t read it without crying and visualizing the terror that he went through. I just don’t understand how someone could gag a child and muffle his screams. Maybe that’s why the neighbors didn’t hear him because they gagged him,” she wondered.
“It just really got to me… the new details of stuffing him in a cabinet and bonding him and putting a sock in his mouth. To learn that the night before he died he was pepper sprayed and kicked even when he was unconscious. His brother said that he saw the boyfriend put him in a choke hold and throw him against the wall and drag him into the bedroom and heard banging and screams,” Carranza said.
“Police found him lying naked and found his clothes that were soaked with blood and bb pellets, and a bloodstained bat they had used to knock out his teeth.”
The 800-page report contains photos and outlined the cruel and unimaginable details of abuse and what a first responder described as a torture even worse than a prisoner of war would receive.
The child wasn’t allowed out of the cabinet to use the bathroom and when he relieved himself in the cabinet he had to clean it up himself. There is also evidence of sexual abuse, and reports of public humiliation with Gabriel forced to wear girls clothing to school.
Carranza said that she could not bear to look at the photos, and it has taken a great emotional toll to be involved in the case.
Other extended family members and friends have asked “that their names be kept out of it.” They said that Pearl is less than 5-feet tall but would have no problem hitting a man, and said there were times when even her own mother feared her. It’s no wonder that Gabriel had thoughts of suicide that a school therapist became alarmed about, they said.
When asked why Fernandez took him out of his grandparents care after they had cared for him since infanthood, family members and friends of the family all agree that money was the primary motivator for Pearl Fernandez to take Gabriel. The paperwork for custody was never handled correctly, they said, so Gabriel’s grandparents had no legal standing to force her to return the boy to them.
“She told us that she had to have him so that she could get more welfare money,” a family friend who asked not to be identified told the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol. “I heard this from her own mouth. He would’ve been ok if he she had left him where he was, but she took him and refused to return him.”
“She just never wanted Gabriel, that’s why his grandparents had him in the first place. She hated Gabriel,” Carranza added.
Why she hated her youngest son so much still isn’t clear to extended family and friends. They have speculated and have differing opinions. But they all agree that Fernandez had always been “out of control,” and “disrespectful to everyone.”
They point out that even with a history of drug abuse and mental health issues, the “system” still favored her in the end.
“I once asked her if she could speak a sentence without the ‘F’ word,” said the family friend.
“She never had girlfriends, just boyfriends,” they described.
Carranza started a Facebook page called “Gabriel’s Justice,” and she said that she hears from others from all parts of the country who have tried to report abuse, or have been victims of abuse, and they are equally frustrated with the system.
“I respect the teacher, she did try to get help for Gabriel and the school at one point even called 9-1-1,” Carranza said. “They weren’t taken seriously. The Sheriff’s [Department] even told Gabriel to stop making up stories or he was going to be taken to jail,” she described.
“I’m still unhappy with the last social worker [at Department of Family and Children Services] on Gabriel’s case who listed his fat lip as nothing more than a blister. The first responders who saw him that night, who saw his skin burned and scarred and with bb pellets, why couldn’t the social worker see it when he was standing right in front of her? There had to be more physical signs and she could’ve looked under his shirt and talked to him away from his abuser. She would’ve gotten answers.”
But the social worker and police officers simply looked the other way, Carranza believes.
“Did she even care? Did she even care the least bit about Gabriel? I saw the social worker in a news report and she wanted sympathy, and said that she lost her job and was losing her house. I’m glad that she lost her job and I’m angry. She had the chance to help Gabriel, she could have saved this little boy, and she didn’t,” Carranza said.
“The school called the authorities and everybody did their part except for the cops and the social worker. When I saw the news report and the social worker was shown in a sillouette and she wanted to protect herself and her own identity …she didn’t care about protecting Gabriel and didn’t even sound the least bit remorseful.”
Carranza plans to attend the trial, which will be held in downtown Los Angeles and is expected to begin in early October. She hopes Gabriel’s siblings won’t have to testify again and that the grand jury report will be enough.
“It is only going to get worse, I know that. But I want to be in court and look at Pearl when they find her guilty,” she said.
Carranza is involved with establishing a scholarship fund for those students interested in careers to help children and fight against child abuse. For more information on the website “Gabriel’s Justice,” visit :https://www.facebook.com/Justice4Gabriel.