Couple take plea deal after torturing, killing 8-year-old they thought was gay

8-year-old tortured to death by couple because they thought he was gay. (x)

8-year-old tortured to death by couple because they thought he was gay. (x)

A Southern California couple have agreed to plead guilty to murder and torture charges after they beat an 8-year-old boy to death because they reportedly thought he was gay.

The boy’s mother, Pearl Fernandez, and her former boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, will be imprisoned for life without parole after reaching the plea agreement last week. This means they will avoid the death penalty. The couple pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and torture with special circumstances and waived their right to appeal. reports:

“Aguirre and Fernandez were accused of torturing the child, Gabriel Fernandez, for several months, calling him gay, beating him when he played with dolls, striking him with belts and baseball bats, forcing him to eat cat feces and his own vomit, dousing him in pepper spray, and locking him inside a cabinet with a sock stuffed in his mouth and refusing to let him out to use the bathroom.”

On May 22, 2013, Gabriel’s mother called 911 to report that he was not breathing. Paramedics found the boy in his bedroom naked, with a cracked skull, several broken ribs, and BB pellets in his lung and groin. Two days later, he died and the couple was charged with capital murder shortly afterwards.

After receiving numerous reports, child welfare workers determined that Gabriel was not at risk. Even after social workers found a suicide note he wrote, they concluded he did not have an immediate or specific plan to take his own life. As a result, four social workers were discharged and Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services released a report with reforms suggested for the department.

Gabriel’s first grade teacher, Jennifer Garcia, spoke with about her experience trying to help him:

Gabriel’s maternal grandfather has filed a civil lawsuit against Los Angeles County and DCFS for wrongful death, because the child was under the agency’s supervision. Prior to being returned to live with his mother, Gabriel had lived with his grandfather.

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