Gabriel Fernandez died on May 24, 2013, having endured years of unspeakable abuse.
The 8-year-old Palmdale-native was raised by his mother, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, who forced him to eat rotten spinach, cat feces, and his own vomit. What happened to Gabriel Fernandez was nothing short of vicious and evil. And his death was a tragedy that should have never happened. Be warned. His story is a graphic one.
What happened to Gabriel Fernandez?
"I have never seen this many skin injuries on one child," told James Kemp Ribe, the L.A. County coroner’s office at Fernandez' and Aguirre's trial, notes Los Angeles Times.
Gabriel's guardians appeared before Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli in a Los Angeles courtroom on June 7, 2018. Fernandez pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Her boyfriend, Aguirre, was given the death penalty.
Fernandez' case is considered to be the most abhorrent act of child abuse to take place in recent history.
"It goes without saying that the conduct was horrendous and inhumane and nothing short of evil," the court judge said during the trial, before adding that "it's beyond animalistic because animals know how to take care of their young."
"I hope you think about the pain you caused this child and that it tortures you," he told the couple, notes Newsweek.
Gabriel was found unconscious on May 22, 2013, after his mother called 911 to report an incident. As she informed the Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel, Gabriel fell over a dresser and hit his head.
The 8-year-old was taken to hospital and announced brain-dead the same day, before taken off life-support on May 24. According to Los Angeles CBS, the paramedics found the young boy lying unconscious in a bedroom. His skull was cracked, three of his ribs were broken, his teeth were bashed out with a bat, and his lungs and groin were severely injured by BB pellets.
"It was just like every inch of this child had been abused," paramedic James Cermak said in his testimony.
However, Gabriel's case wasn't completely unknown to the authorities. As Jennifer Garcia, a first-grade teacher at the Summerwind Elementary School informed Los Angeles Times, the young boy's injuries hardly went unnoticed at the school. It was his bruises, bloody lips, and blackeye that caught her attention. She alerted the social services several times, to no avail.
On one occasion, Gabriel's bruised lip was dismissed as a blister, Jennifer told Los Angeles Times. The boy was allowed to continue living with his abusive guardians.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the social service workers have failed to conduct a thorough inquiry. As a testimony reveals, they didn't check the boy's body for bruises, and neither did they arrange a visit to the apartment where he was systematically tortured.
Gabriel's case draws attention to the urgent need to reform social services. The case is a staggering example of the continuing failures of the Los Angeles County child-welfare system, reports Los Angeles Times.
Two social workers and two supervisors were fired in the aftermath of the tragedy.