4 LA County social workers plead not guilty in death of 8-year-old Palmdale boy

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Four social workers charged in connection with the beating and torture death of an 8-year-old Palmdale boy pleaded not guilty on Monday.

Former social workers Stefanie Rodriguez and Patricia Clement, and their supervisors, Kevin Bom and Gregory Merritt, pleaded not guilty to one count each of child abuse and falsifying public records, both felonies, in connection with the death of Gabriel Fernandez.

Gabriel Fernandez, who prosecutors said was the victim of repeated abuse, suffered a fractured skull, several broken ribs and had been shot with a BB gun. He was declared dead on May 24, 2013.

MORE: 4 LA County social workers to stand trial in death of 8-year-old boy

Prosecutors said Rodriguez and Clement falsified reports that should have documented signs of Gabriel Fernandez's extensive abuse. They said the case workers ignored evidence, including calls made by the victim's teacher.

They said the other defendants, Bom and Merritt, should have known they were approving false reports that conflicted with evidence of the harm Gabriel Fernandez was suffering.

The boy's mother, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, and her former boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, were both charged with capital murder in his death.
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