LOS ANGELES — A judge today denied a re-sentencing request made by a Palmdale woman who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the killing of her 8-year-old son, who was beaten, starved, and forced to sleep in a closet, and tormented until his death eight years ago.
Pearl Fernandez, now 37, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in March 2018 for the May 2013 murder of her son, Gabriel, but claimed in an April 1 petition that she could no longer be convicted of first- or second-degree murder due to recent changes in state law that affect defendants in some murder cases.
Isauro Aguirre, her boyfriend, was sentenced to death. His automatic appeal has been filed with the California Supreme Court.
Who is Pearl Fernandez?
Robert and Sandra Fernandez gave birth to Pearl Sinthia Fernandez in 1983. Her father spent the majority of his time in prison, so her childhood was highly chaotic. Her mother abused her as a child. She began using methamphetamine and alcohol when she was just nine years old.
Pearl is a high school dropout who was raped as a youngster by her uncle and a group of men who raped her for days. She was even hospitalized for suicidal ideation. Her relatives, however, have disclosed that she was controlling and violent to her boyfriends.
On February 20, 2005, Gabriel Daniel Fernandez was born to Arnold Contreras and Pearl Fernandez. Gabriel was placed in the care of his great-uncle on his mother's side, Michael Lemos Carranza, and his boyfriend David Martinez shortly after birth.
They raised Fernandez for another four years. Gabriel, then four years old, moved in with his grandparents in 2009 owing to his grandfather's opposition to Carranza and Martinez's same-s*x relationship.
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He remained with his grandparents until 2012, when his mother, Pearl Fernandez, and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, reclaimed physical custody of him, despite the family's concerns for his well-being.
Abuse and Murder
Gabriel Fernandez was systematically tormented and tortured throughout his eight-month stay in the home of Pearl Fernandez and Isauro Aguirre.
Regular physical beatings resulted in broken bones; being forced to eat cat litter and feces, his own vomit, and spoiled or expired foods; being burned with cigarettes; being shot with a BB gun in various areas of the body, including the face and groin; being pepper-sprayed; being forced to wear women's clothing; being forced to sleep bound and gagged in a small cupboard, and having his teeth knocked out with a bat.
According to Fernandez's siblings, his mother and stepfather would laugh while he was being abused. Prosecutors claim Aguirre was motivated to assault Fernandez because he thought he was gay. The violence and torture extended to Fernandez's siblings, but it was aimed mainly at Fernandez.
Pearl Fernandez called 9-1-1 on May 22, 2013, to report that her infant, Gabriel Fernandez, was not breathing.
Fernandez was fatally beaten by his mother and Aguirre for not cleaning up his toys. When first responders arrived, they discovered him naked on the ground with many injuries.
Despite the fact that the information was useless, Aguirre informed them that Fernandez was “homosexual.”
He was transported to the hospital by paramedics, who ruled him brain dead. Two days later, on May 24, 2013, he died at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
He died at the age of eight, and the official autopsy determined that he died as a result of blunt force injuries, neglect, and malnutrition.
Pearl Fernandez and Isauro Aguirre were arrested on May 23, 2013. Fernandez was charged with criminal child endangerment, while Aguirre was charged with attempted murder.
When Gabriel died, Fernandez and Aguirre were both charged with first-degree murder under torture, and prosecutors sought the death penalty.
Pearl Fernandez pled guilty to her charge on February 15, 2018, as part of a plea bargain to avoid the death penalty, and was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of release. She declared in court, “I'd like to express my regret for what occurred.
I wish Gabriel were still alive. Every day, I wish I had taken different decisions. I apologize to my children and want them to know how much I love them.”
Gabriel Fernandez: The Trials is a six-part crime documentary that will stream on Netflix in 2020.
The documentary, directed by Brian Knappenberger, examines Gabriel Fernandez's murder and the ensuing reactions of the media and local authorities.