Slain Palmdale boy pepper-sprayed in face, forced to eat cat feces, brother testifies

ByVania Stuelp KABC logo
Friday, October 20, 2017
Palmdale boy was forced to eat cat feces, brother testifies
Before Gabriel Fernandez was killed, the 8-year-old endured unimaginable abuse from his mom's boyfriend, the boy's older brother testified.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Before 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez was killed, he endured unimaginable abuse from his mother's boyfriend, including getting pepper-sprayed in the face and being forced to eat cat feces, the boy's brother testified in court on Wednesday.

Gabriel's brother, Ezequiel, is now 16 years old, and he was only 12 when his little brother was killed.

The testimony brought to light disturbing details in the case of Isauro Aguirre, who is accused of torturing and killing Gabriel in May 2013. Gabriel was the son of Aguirre's girlfriend, 34-year-old Pearl Fernandez, who will have a separate trial.

Ezequiel described a daily barrage of beatings Gabriel endured at the hands of both Aguirre and Pearl Fernandez. The courtroom was silent as the prosecution rolled in a small cabinet that Aguirre and Fernandez would allegedly lock the boy in, bound and gagged, sometimes for hours without food, water or access to the bathroom.

The cabinet, which Ezequiel referred to as "the box," was locked with a pair of handcuffs.

Throughout the 16-year-old's testimony, Aguirre remained stone-faced and motionless. He did not look up at Ezequiel.

The teen said Aguirre would hit Gabriel with his fist, kick him and pick him up by the neck and drop him to the ground once the child lost consciousness. Ezequiel also said Aguirre would pepper-spray Gabriel in the face and strike his naked body with a belt buckle and a metal hanger.

Aguirre would shoot Gabriel in the face, chest, legs and groin with a BB gun, and also pin him against the wall until the boy passed out, the teen testified. Ezequiel described one instance in which Aguirre struck Gabriel so hard that the child's head left an indentation on the wall. He said sometimes during the beatings, Aguirre would call Gabriel "gay."

At one point during the testimony, the teen said, "My mom and her boyfriend made Gabriel eat spoiled stuff or expired stuff. One thing I remember is expired spinach. He threw it up, and they made him eat it off the table."

The prosecutor then asked, "Did the defendant make Gabriel eat throw up?" Ezequiel answered, "Yes."

He said his mother and her boyfriend also forced Gabriel to eat cat feces and cat litter.

According to Ezequiel, the two would gang up on Gabriel together and beat him up. He said they would laugh during the beatings.

Ezequiel said Aguirre and his mom threatened him with the same abuse if he told anyone or did anything to stop them, and said Aguirre and his mom told him to lie about Gabriel's injuries saying they happened while he was playing. He said his mother told him to lie about Gabriel's injuries to social workers, and that she would hide his bruises with makeup.

He said once, his mother and Aguirre ordered him to punch his own brother. Ezequiel said it was difficult to explain how he felt at that time, telling the court that he whispered in his brother's ear to fall when he pretended to hit him.

Ezequiel said his mother and Aguirre only beat Gabriel - not himself, his sister Virginia or his other brother Arnold. He testified that Gabriel was not given any toys and not allowed to play with friends, and he also said he didn't know why Gabriel was beaten, abused and treated differently.

On the day Gabriel died, Ezequiel said his mother and Aguirre hit Gabriel until he was bleeding and then dragged the boy into their room and closed the door. Ezequiel said he heard screams and bangs, and then everything went quiet.

Gabriel's older sister testifies on day two of murder trial

The prosecution rolled out a small cabinet that Isauro Aguirre and Pearl Fernandez allegedly used to lock 8-year-old Gabriel in.

When Gabriel's 14-year-old sister took the stand in the afternoon, quiet sobs could be heard from the jury and the audience.

Virginia was 11 at the time of the abuse and tearfully described her eyewitness accounts of how Gabriel was choked and beaten with a bat, club, belt buckle and metal hanger. She said Aguirre shot Gabriel in the mouth with a BB gun and also punched him in the chest, arms and face, adding that the beatings happened all the time.

She also testified that Aguirre and Fernandez made Gabriel wear pink leggings and a pink shirt to school.

When asked how Gabriel's two front teeth were knocked out, Virginia responded, "My mother had punched him."

Virginia then described the horror she says she witnessed the night of May 22, 2013.

"I was sitting on the edge of the bed. And my mother's boyfriend was punching him," she said.

"He knocked the air out of him, and he fell over, and he didn't get back up," Virginia testified as she began crying. "So they picked him up. They threw him in the shower. And they kept yelling at him to wake up. And when he didn't wake up, my mother decided to call the police. And she told me to grab a rag and we cleaned most of the blood that was on the floor."

The judge had to call for a break because so many in the courtroom were crying and distraught.