Entertainment

Charges Dropped Against Four Social Workers In Gabriel Fernandez Case

Update: Charges against the social workers who were connected to the Gabriel Fernandez case have been dropped. After years of litigation, news coverage, and a Netflix special, the case has come to an end with the social workers cleared of any wrongdoing.

Gabriel Fernandez was tortured and killed by his mom and her boyfriend in May 2013.

Fernandez was 8 years old when he was murdered and his mother and her boyfriend were eventually convicted of his murder. After their conviction, the focus was placed on the social workers who handled Fernandez. Charges were brought against four of the social workers and a community waited to hear their fate.

The dismissal was expected after an appellate court ruled that the social workers should not face charges. The decision was well-received by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. Yet, some members of the community, and Fernandez’s family, are disheartened by the decision by the court.

Original: In their latest documentary series, Netflix asks the question just how eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez, an so many other abused children like him, slip through the cracks of our systems?

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.”

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Knappenberger highlighted the series most prevalent questions. Including if there will be a season 2.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly Knappinger says he hopes to have a second series so that audiences can hear from Aguirre or Fernandez who were not featured in the series.

“Yes, I still want to hear from them,” Knappenberger said. “It’s not like we created this television series and now we’re on to the next thing, moving on with our lives. This is something that is lodged in the heart of everybody that worked on it. Part of it is a mystery. Like, who are these people? How did this happen? Why did this boy’s life get taken like this? There are still so many unanswered questions. So if they wanted to talk to me, I would absolutely talk to them on the record.”

According to Knappinger, Fernandez’s death has brought about change in Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services 

According to a statement released by the department to the WRAP after the docuseries, they have hired more than 3,500 new social workers since 2013 and carried out a five-to-one ratio of supervisors to social workers. 

“It should never take the death of a child to address weaknesses and make investments in improvements for child protection; it is in his memory and in pursuit of the safety of Los Angeles County’s two million children that we have reformed how child protection work is done,” the statement said. “This new era of reform began immediately following Gabriel’s death and continues on today with Director Bobby D. Cagle who joined the Department in December 2018.”

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.

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These ’90s Movies Are The Perfect Nostalgic Feels To Make It Through The Holiday Season

Entertainment

These ’90s Movies Are The Perfect Nostalgic Feels To Make It Through The Holiday Season

Grace Cary / Getty Images

Quick disclaimer: These are not holiday movies but they will take you back as we all make it through the rest of the holiday season.

These are different holidays than we’ve ever seen. It is a good thing not to see your family and stay where you are as we brace for the rest of Covid’s second wave. To get through it, we collected some ’90s movies to help you make the best of your holidays.

1. “To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar”

“To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar” is truly a classic. Three New York City drag queens set off for a national drag competition in Los Angeles. Along the way there are lessons in being the best drag queen you can be. Of course the lesson translate into real life experiences when the queens face a homophobic sheriff in a tiny town in Nebraska. John Leguizamo is Chi Chi Rodriguez, the youngest and newest drag queen of the bunch. You have to watch Leguizamo’s incredible glow up from beginning to end.

2. “Jawbreaker”

“Jawbreaker” is a classic teen murder film. What starts as a birthday prank takes a horrible and fatal turn for one high school student on her 17th birthday. The worst part is it happened because of her best friends. To hide their crime, three girls give a less fortunate classmate a makeover and make her one of the popular ones. However, not everything goes to plan. Tatyana Ali is part of the cast of high school students as Brenda living in a movie as the mystery of Elizabeth Purr’s death unfolds.

3. “Clueless”

We all know “Clueless.” The wildly successful movie gives people a peek into the lives of the rich and spoiled teenagers of Beverly Hills. Stacey Dash plays Dionne, Cher’s best friend, and is there for her bestie through it all. There are makeovers, complicated love stories, one terrifying freeway drive, and a mugging deep in The Valley. Combined, they make one of the greatest movies created in the ’90s and you’re better for watching it.

4. “The Sandlot”

Boys everywhere know “The Sandlot” like it was their own childhood. A group of neighborhood boys spend the coming-of-age summer living the All American boy dream. There is baseball, fake drowning in a public swimming pool, and a legendary junk yard monster play out before our eyes. If you haven’t seen this, or just want a walk down memory lane, give this a watch. Mike Vitar plays Benjamin Franklin “Benny the Jet” Rodriguez and his friends have the most epic summer and grow significantly by the end.

5. “10 Things I Hate About You”

Andrew Keegan plays a less than desirable man in “10 Things I Hate About You.” Desperate to be the coolest, Keegan’s character Joey offers someone money to date his crush’s sister in a bid to date his crush. The plan quickly unravels, as one would expect, and Joey gets his comeuppance.

6. “Romy And Michele’s High School Reunion”

Jacob Vargas plays Ramon in “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.” If it wasn’t for Ramon, Romy and Michele would have never made it to Tucson for their 10-year high school reunion. The two women are not successful in making up their lies to impress people but the adventure is incredible to watch unfold.

7. “The Blair Witch Project”

“The Blair Witch Project” terrified little millennials everywhere. The movie shot as if it is found footage of a horrific event struck fear into the hearts of all of us. We can thank Cuban director Eduardo Sánchez for making this a crucial point in our fear development. The director created this gem in 1999 and he went on to work on other horror films, including multiple sequels of “The Blair Witch Project.”

READ: Remembering All Of The TV Latino Crushes You Had In The 90s Will Save You During This Time

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The Director of ‘Spy Kids’ Made a New Netflix Kids Movie Starring Pedro Pascal

Entertainment

The Director of ‘Spy Kids’ Made a New Netflix Kids Movie Starring Pedro Pascal

Photos: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Robert Rodriguez, the beloved Mexican-American director of family-favorite classics like “Spy Kids” and “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D” is coming out with a new kids movie on Netflix called “We Can Be Heroes”.

According to Netflix, the film will be set in the “Sharkboy and Lavagirl” cinematic universe, and will function as a “standalone sequel” to the classic kids movie. The movie is set to drop on New Year’s Day.

The story will follow the children of a group of superheroes called “The Heroics”. The children of The Heroics must save the planet after their parents are kidnapped by alien invaders. According to the information that Netflix has released, Sharkboy and Lavagirl will be two of the parents who are kidnapped by these villainous aliens. (Yes, Sharkboy and Lavagirl now have a kid together. Yes, we thought they were siblings this entire time.)

While Taylor Dooley, who plays Lavagirl, is reprising her role for “We Can Be Heroes”, Taylor Lautner, unfortunately, will not.

An actor named JJ Dashnaw will step into Sharkboy’s shoes. But to soften the blow of that disappointing recasting news, none of other than Pedro Pascal will be playing one of the lead roles in the movie, a character named Marcus Moreno who is “a superhero on the verge of retirement”.

“I’ve wanted to work with Pedro since forever,” Rodriguez told Entertainment Weekly. “[Marcus] can be a badass if he needs to. He takes the glasses off, and he looks legit.” 

Although Robert Rodriguez is well-known for his family movies like the “Spy Kids” franchise as well as “Shark Boy and Lavagirl”, he has recently focuses his career on more adult fare like “Machete” and “Alita: Battle Angel”. Fans of “Spy Kids” are excited to be treated to a movie that seems like it will be a spiritual successor of the 2001 film. Rodriguez says that families being stuck at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic has simply fueled nostalgia for his popular kids movies.

“A lot of families have spent a lot of time together,” he told EW. “I’ve been getting calls from all kinds of studios: ‘Reboot Spy Kids.’ ‘Reboot Sharkboy.’ Of course they want to. They’re all sitting at home with their kids.”

Just this year, Robert Rodriguez talked about how hard he had to fight to make the “Spy Kids” family Latino. “For me it was a big victory … to have the kids in ‘Spy Kids’ be a Latin family,” he explained at a virtual Comic Con panel. “The studio was like, ‘Why are you making them Latin, though, why don’t you just make them American?’ They are American, they’re based on my family.”

“There were no roles being written for Latins at that time, back in 1999, nor were they being cast. If I wasn’t Latin, I would have given up the fight,” he continued. “When you’re doing anything that’s new, this just happens to be about diversity, you’re going to get a question and you have to have a good answer.”

We’re excited to take a look at this new kid-friendly movie! We hope it’s as entertaining as “Spy Kids”.

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