Netflix Finally Gives Eight-Year-Old Gabriel Fernandez, Who Was Murdered And Tortured By His Own Mother, A Voice
How eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez, an so many other abused children like him, slip through the cracks of our systems is the featured question in Netflix’s latest documentary series.
The emotional and deeply harrowing story of how the Los Angeles boy was found naked with shattered ribs and a cracked skull horrified readers back in 2013 when reports of his death were published. The boy had been found at his family’s home in Palmdale, California and died two days later on May 22, 2013 and what remained sparked investigations into how an entire system meant to protect him sorely let him down.
The series, The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez comes from documentarian Brian Knappenberger, and focuses on the child’s death and the arrest of his mother and her boyfriend.
The documentary, whose trailer dropped early this week, is set to focus on the role of the government systems that failed to protect Gabriel. By the time of his death, multiple reports of abuse had been filed and various warning signs became apparent. Soon after his death Gabriel’s mother, Pearl Fernandez pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and admitted she’d intentionally meant to murder her son by torture. For her part, Fernandez was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, was later sentenced to death after being convicted of first-degree murder with “the special circumstance of intentional murder by torture.”
During Aguirre’s trial, prosecutors claimed that Gabriel had been forced to eat cat feces and cat litter.
He’d also been forced to sleep while bound up and gagged in a small cabinet and he’d been struck by his mother’s boyfriend with metal hangers, a bat and a club. According to the Los Angeles Times, Gabriel had been brutally beaten up by his mother and Aguire after he didn’t clean up his toys. Prosecutors alleged that Aguirre abused and killed Gabriel because he thought he was gay.
Speaking to People in an interview about the new series, Knappenberger said, “What we do know is that he called him gay when he was beating him. And it’s one of the first things he told the first responders when the first responders entered the house and were trying to save Gabriel’s life. So take from that which will, but it certainly played a role.”
At the heart of the 2013 trials were questions related to how all of this started and how it continued to play out for so long.
According to Knappenberger Gabriel came from a struggling home environment and spent much of his life being passed between relatives before returning to his mother’s home who “took him back for welfare money, that she wanted extra welfare money.”
At their 2018 sentencing, Los Angeles Judge George G. Lomeli called the violence the boy suffered “horrendous, inhumane and nothing short of evil.”
“The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez” is set to start streaming on Netflix on Feb. 26.