His name and his face will forever be in our memory. Gabriel was only 8 years old when his mother, Pearl Fernandez and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, tortured then murdered him.
In the Netflix Docuseries, “The Trials OG Gabriel Fernandez”, the series documents how the system consistently allowed his case to fall through the cracks when he needed help. Was it difficult to watch? It was very difficult. So difficult, it had a gangsta in tears. Two minutes into the first episode, I had to close out the screen to gather my thoughts. The next day, I mentally prepared myself and decided to watch the series from beginning to end.
In a span of 8 months, aside from regular beatings, Gabriel was shot in the face with a BB gun, he was forced to eat cat litter, while everyone slept in beds, he was locked up in a cupboard, Gabriel was pepper sprayed in the bathroom, and burned by cigarettes. On top of that, his older brother and sister witnessed the abuse. Isauro Aguirre lost his shit and beat Gabriel which lead to his death. During an interview between an investigator and Gabriel’s sister, she mentioned that she tried to feed her brother by slipping in a piece of banana through the cupboard. What saddened me was the fact that his teacher reported the abuse to the Department of Children and Family Services several times, a security guard from The Department of Social Services also reported the abuse — but no action was taken. Law enforcement was also called to the scene and nothing was done.
Days before Gabriel was murdered, he made a Mother’s Day card telling her how beautiful she was and how much he loved her. On a Mother’s Day coupon, Gabriel wrote: “This coupon is for a time for me and you”
He just wanted to be loved by his mother.
Pearl Fernandez avoided the death penalty by taking a plea deal and was sentenced to life in prison. Her boyfriend, Isauro was convicted of murder in the first degree and sentenced to death. Two social workers, Patricia Clement, Stefanie Rodriguez and their supervisors, Kevin Bom and Gregory Merritt were charged with a felony count of abuse and falsifying records. Unfortunately, their case never made it to trial and later dismissed. Do I feel that all parties are to blame for Gabriel’s murder, YES!
I cried as I watched episode after episode. I could not grasp the reality of the abuse they inflicted on Gabriel and what bothers me the most is how the system failed to investigate his case further. I continue to ask myself why he wasn’t removed from the home? In the county I live in, DCFS will say it’s neglect if your children of the opposite sex share a bedroom. In the county I live in, if you’re reported by CFS, a social worker will interview you and all of your kids even if one child is being referred. I just can’t understand how the system failed him — in my opinion, they didn’t take his case seriously.
First Gabriel Fernandez and then there’s Anthony Avalos, which is yet another child that Los Angeles County CFS failed to protect. Then came, Noah Cuatro, a 4 year old Palmdale boy, who was also abused and killed by his parents.
I just can’t.