On Monday, the trial began in LA County District Attorney’s Office for the death of Gabriel Fernandez in May 2013.
Gabriel was just eight years old when he was murdered by his mother’s partner, Isauro Aguirre.
Despite being so young, it has been alleged that Aguirre’s horrific treatment of Gabriel was due to his belief that Gabriel was gay.
Prosecutor John Hatami stated that Aguirre hated Gabriel, with much of this hatred stemming from his assumption that the 8-year-old was gay.
“[Aguirre] believed Gabriel was gay and to him that was a bad thing… he [beat and killed Gabriel] out of hatred of a little boy,” he said.
Hatami showed the courtroom photos of Gabriel, when he was “happy and healthy” living with his grandparents, before moving to live with his mother and Aguirre in 2012.
Gabriel lived with his mother, Pearl Fernandez and her partner Aguirre for eight months, being battered and bruised. Fernandez is also on trial for Gabriel’s death, but is being tried separately.
Both are charged with capital murder, however the case has been given a special circumstance given the torture Gabriel faced, meaning it could be punishable with the death penalty.
The trial’s first witness was paramedic James Carmak, who was there the night Gabriel was hospitalised. He stated “the more you looked [at Gabriel’s body], the more you saw. It was unbelievable.”
He was asked whether Fernandez or Aguirre were crying or showed any empathy that night, to which he replied, “No.”
Gabriel faced a torrent of horrific abuse before he was killed. He was beaten with belts and batons, shot with a BB gun, sprayed with pepper spray, bitten, whipped with cables, burned with cigarettes, starved, gagged and forced to sleep in a small cabinet, as well as being force-fed cat faeces and vomit.
His injuries were sustained over a long and agonising period of time, beginning long before his death on 22 May, 2013. Gabriel was hospitalised and considered brain dead, being taken off of life support two days later.
Hatami made the heart-wrenching statement in court that “Gabriel’s last vision was that man over there [Aguirre] standing over Gabriel, beating him to death. The evidence will show that the defendant is nothing more than a bully.”
Despite the extent of Gabriel’s condition, Aguirre claims that while he did kill Gabriel, it was in one instance of explosive rage, that wasn’t intended to kill.
Aguirre’s defence attorney John Allan stated: “[Aguirre] is guilty of murder, but the special circumstance alleged, that he intended to kill Gabriel with the infliction of torture, is not true. Despite the horrific abuse, Isauro never intended Gabriel to die.”
When Gabriel was admitted to hospital in May, the couple told police “[Gabriel] liked to hit himself, he was gay and he wanted to kill himself.”
Aguirre has rejected a plea deal that would have removed the possibility of facing the death penalty from his sentence. The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks.
Four Los Angeles County social workers assigned to Gabriel’s case are also facing charges of child abuse and falsifying public records, allowing this monstrous abuse to continue to occur.
Words Jamie Dixon