Defense in Palmdale abuse case tries to point finger away from mother's boyfriend

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Suspicion in the death of 8-year-old Palmdale boy Gabriel Fernandez should be cast on his mother, not her boyfriend, according to the man's defense.

Placida and Rodrigo Contreras, the grandparents of the victim, testified Tuesday through an interpreter that Pearl Fernandez had abandoned her son Arnold, Gabriel's older brother, years before Gabriel was abused.

"She told us that she did not love Arnold because she suffered so much during his delivery, that she did not love him, and that is why she gave him to us," explained grandfather Rodrigo Contreras.

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Neither saw Pearl Fernandez hit her children, but with Arnold, they once noted bruises and neglect.

Pearl Fernandez will be tried separately. The prosecution has presented evidence, including Aguirre's own confession that he beat the boy. Other exhibits included handcuffs, a baton, a BB gun and a cabinet where Gabriel was confined.

The defense's theory is that Pearl Fernandez' boyfriend Aguirre was easily pushed around by her, but testimony that they hoped would support that was thwarted.

They had hoped to call four witnesses to testify about Aguirre's slow comprehension: difficulties working at a McDonalds when he was 18, having a "D" average through middle school and repeating the 9th grade.

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The judge ruled on Tuesday that such testimony would only be relevant if the defense had presented an expert to testify that Aguirre's slowness would inhibit his ability to conspire with Pearl Fernandez about the abuse of Gabriel and premeditate actions that would cause his death.

The defense had no expert.

"The court is going to stand by its ruling, and so the end result is, What are you left with?" the judge said. "What do you have left this morning?

"Nothing," the defense attorney responded.

Tuesday's hearing ended early because the defense simply ran out of witnesses. The trial will resume on Monday with closing arguments.
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