If sentenced to execution, killer of Palmdale boy could spend decades on death row

ByABC7.com staff KABC logo
Thursday, December 14, 2017
Jury recommends death for killer of Palmdale boy
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If Isauro Aguirre is sentenced to death in the murder of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez, it will likely be years before he sees the inside of California's execution chamber.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- If a judge carries out a jury's recommendation and Isauro Aguirre is sentenced to death in the torture and murder of 8-year-old Palmdale boy Gabriel Fernandez, it will likely take years or decades before he would be executed, if ever.

At the moment, no executions are moving forward in California because of legal disputes over the death penalty.

In addition, many of the executions that have taken place in the past have been carried out at least two decades after the original sentencing.

Aguirre was convicted in the torture and murder of Gabriel Fernandez and a jury on Wednesday recommended he be sentenced to death.

That will ultimately be up to the judge in the case, with a decision for now scheduled in March.

Isauro Aguirre (left) and Gabriel Fernandez (right) are seen in undated file photos.

If sentenced to death, Aguirre would join more than 700 inmates currently sitting on California's death row.

A list of those inmates shows some with sentencing dates that stretch back to the 1970s.

The last execution to take place in California was in 2006, when Clarence Ray Allen was put to death for three counts of first-degree murder, according to state corrections officials.

Allen had spent more than 23 years on death row and was 76 when he was executed by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison on Jan. 17, 2006.

Only 13 executions have taken place in California since the mid-1970s when the death penalty was reinstated, while hundreds of inmates remain on death row pursuing legal appeals that in some cases have lasted a decade or more.

A ballot measure approved by California voters last year sought to speed up the time between sentencing and executions.

Proposition 66 was approved by a 51 percent vote. While it faced legal challenges, it was largely upheld by the California State Supreme Court.

Still, a legal battle involving inmate Michael Angelo Morales has kept the death penalty issue in limbo.

Morales was convicted in 1983 of murder and, after his appeals were exhausted, was scheduled to be executed in 2006. The execution was stayed at the last minute over challenges that argued California's method of lethal injection amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the U.S. Constitution's 8th Amendment.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says until this issue is resolved, with a proposal to carry out the death penalty in a humane manner that can withstand legal challenges, there will be no executions carried out in the state.

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