Ed. Note: Aguirre, 37, faces a possible death sentence but in the state of California that could translate to 25 years to life in prison. The penalty phase of the trial will begin on November 27, following the Thanksgiving holiday.
After 4 1/2 years of waiting for the trial to begin, the jury’s verdict came quickly.
After only five 1/2 hours over two days of deliberation, you could hear a pin drop when the jury came back in the courtroom and the decision was announced: “Isauro Aguirre is found guilty of the first-degree of murder” with a special circumstance of torture for the killing of his girlfriend’s 8-year-old son Gabriel Fernandez.
Emily Carranza, a cousin of Gabriel, said she could not hold back her tears when she heard the verdict. The prosecuting team embraced each other with a long hug. Prosecuting attorney Jonathan Hutami said he was relieved that there “is a little bit of justice for Gabriel” and expressed gratitude to the jury.
“Today is bittersweet. Justice has been served in the way of the law. But, I will never have justice because it won’t bring Gabriel back,” Carranza said.
She said she was grateful to the prosecuting team which she believed was also very affected with the brutality in this case and worked a very long time for justice.
The prosecuting attorneys provided evidence of the systematic torture of Gabriel during the time he lived with the couple, up until the day he died.
The abuse was so gruesome and cruel, as to be compared to the suffering inflicted on prisoners of war, with starving, beating, burning, gagging, and shooting. The child was forced to eat cat feces, the only thing found in his stomach by an autopsy. A BB was lodged in his lung that in the trial was explained by only getting there by having the gun shot into his mouth.
“No amount of punishment will ever be justice for what Aguirre has done to Gabriel,” Carranza said.
Carranza, a Sylmar resident, has been in the courtroom throughout much of the trial. She said the graphic images will forever be etched in her mind.
She emphasized that the trial of Pearl Fernandez, Gabriel’s mother, now needs to move forward without delay.
A separate trial will be held for Pearl Fernandez. During the trial for Aguirre, her other children testified that she also abused Gabriel and beat him.
Carranza said there will also have to be a watchful eye on the upcoming trial for Pearl.
She was outraged to hear the defense attorney for Pearl recently claim that she is “intellectually challenged” and therefore may not be capable of going through a trial.
Carranza considers this move a ploy to avoid standing a trial, and described her cousin as “rather bright.” In Aguirre’s trial, evidence was provided to indicate the elaborate lies and manipulation that took place to hide Gabriel — tied up and gagged in a cupboard — when another relative came to their apartment seeking information about him. They said Gabriel was staying with Aguirre’s family.
Carranza believes Pearl Fernandez intended to abuse her son.
“She was intent when she was abusing Gabriel,” Carranza said. “She’s trying to escape the crimes she committed against her son. No matter her tricks, the truth will be told.”
However, Carranza said, there will never be any answers to understand how and why Gabriel’s own mother hated him so much and what made Aguirre and Pearl Fernandez “so evil.”
Carranza said she hoped Gabriel’s mother was watching the verdict.
“Her fate is yet to come.”