The case of Gabriel Fernandez

By: Leslie Lopez Ibanez and Kayla Arellano

*Note, this article may have material that could trigger individuals (descriptions of child abuse), therefore, we present a trigger warning here.

Gabriel Fernández was an 8-year-old boy from Palmdale, California who was tortured, abused, and killed by his own mother and her boyfriend. Gabriel was a very sweet, soft, kind, generous, smart, and innocent child who was helpful and loved his family. He was a happy and healthy child; he loved his mother so much even though she would abuse him along with her boyfriend. 

When Gabriel was born his mother had given him away to his uncle and his partner who took care of him, then he lived with his grandparents, then he was given to his mother along with his other 2 siblings in 2012. 

His mother had a really bad temper and she had mental problems; she was diagnosed with various disorders like depressive disorder, a developmental disability, possible personality disorder etc. Her family was scared that she had custody of Gabriel and his other two siblings. 

They say that Gabriel’s mom (Pearl Fernandez) was abused by her mother when she was younger; her dad was in and out of jail. She has a history of getting raped, and another attempt of being raped. Her childhood was very turbulent. 

Pearl had started using methamphetamine and drinking at age 9, this was during the time when her brain was developing; the drugs she was using stopped it from developing. She stopped going to school after 8th grade and has very limited intellectual capacity.

Pearl’s sister and her family noticed Gabriel’s black eye and started getting worried about his safety. In court, she was asked if she had asked him what happened, and she told them that Gabriel had lied to her but later on he told her that his mom had socked him in the face. After that, she would sleep over at Pearl’s house to make sure they wouldn’t hurt Gabriel or his other 2 siblings. 

Then, once he started school, he asked his teacher if it was normal that your parents hit you with a belt. She said it depends, then he asked if it was normal to bleed, that’s when his teacher, Ms. Jennifer, took action and called the hotline to report it. His classmates and his teacher started to see a change in him. He wasn’t Gabriel, his classmates and his teacher said he developed a bad temper due to his mother’s boyfriend abusing him. 

After Gabriel’s teacher started noticing all the bruises and marks on him, she started to get worried, so she contacted child protective services. That’s when Stefanie Rodriguez was assigned to his case. She was new to the department and they had put her, with no experience, into the emergency response, which is one of the most important departments in the agency. 

She was obligated to have submitted a report requiring he been seen at a medical hub, because Gabriel had very significant injuries. If a doctor would’ve seen him, he would’ve reported Gabriel as a victim of very serious child abuse. 

Stefanie Rodriguez, and 3 other social workers, knew they had the benefit to take Gabriel to a hub, for him to be seen by a doctor, but they didn’t obtain a warrant obligating Pearl to take him there. 

The teacher would call the social worker several times to update her on the recent signs of abuse that Gabriel would come in class with every time. When Gabriel stopped going to school for 13 days, and came back after, the teacher had called the social worker one more time to let her know that the condition had become worse, but she never got a response back. 

During his whole case, Gabriel had four social workers, Stephanie Rodriguez, Kevin Bom, Greg Merritt, and Patricia Clement, who were supposed to take care of Gabriel and write down the abuse signs that were clearly noticeable on him. They were all sent to trial, but the case never made it to trial, so the social workers never faced a jury. All four of the social workers were fired after Gabriel’s death. They all failed Gabriel. They all knew his case but yet didn’t do anything to take him out of his home.

Gabriel Fernandez was abused and tortured by his biological mom and by her boyfriend. They would make him eat cat litter and feces, expired food, and his own vomit. They would burn cigarettes on him, hit him with a belt buckle, a wooden bat, a metal hanger, and was shot in many areas of his body with a BB gun. They would torture him by putting him in a locked cabinet and would make him sleep in it without letting him out to use the bathroom. His brother, Ezequiel, who was a minor at the time, said that his mother jabbed Gabriel in the mouth with a bat and knocked out several teeth. Pearl and Isauro would call Gabriel gay and beat him up simply because he would play with dolls, so they would force him to wear girl clothes to school. 

On May 22nd, Pearl called 911 to report that her son was not breathing. His mom and her boyfriend fatally beat him because he failed to clean up his toys when he was told to. When the paramedics arrived, they found Gabriel on the floor with several injuries all over his body. When he got to the hospital he was declared brain dead. 

On May 24th, Gabriel was pronounced dead at 8 years old. The official autopsy confirmed that he died from blunt force trauma, neglect, and malnutrition. 

Pearl Fernandez pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty and Isauro Auguierre pleaded not guilty. However, they were both found guilty and have been charged with 1st degree murder. Pearl is now serving a life sentence, without the possibility of parole. Isauro is serving a life sentence and has a death sentence, but a date still has to be set for his execution. 

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