Gabriel Fernandez case: Palmdale man — who murdered boy he thought was gay — recommended for death penalty

A jury today recommended the death penalty for a Palmdale man convicted of fatally beating and torturing his girlfriend’s 8-year-old son, Gabriel Fernandez (above) because he thought the boy was gay. Photo: Family photo.

LOS ANGELES — A jury today recommended the death penalty for a Palmdale man convicted of fatally beating and torturing his girlfriend’s 8-year-old son because he thought the boy was gay.

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Last month, Isauro Aguirre, 37, was found guilty of first-degree murder with a special allegation that the murder was committed with the infliction of torture.

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Prosecutors told jurors in closing arguments that the 6-foot-2, 270-pound Aguirre enjoyed torturing the small boy and brutalized him in 2013 because he thought Fernandez was gay.

In the months leading to Fernandez’s May 2013 death, Aguirre forced him to eat cat litter and feces and locked him bound and gagged in a small cabinet overnight, according to court testimony.

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When paramedics arrived at the home of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez, he was unconscious with a cracked skull, had three broken ribs and BB pellets embedded in his lung and groin. Fernandez was declared dead and removed from life support two days later.


Jurors deliberated about three days before reaching their decision for capital punishment.

Aguirre will return to the Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles  March 8 for sentencing from Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge George Lomeli.


The boy’s mother, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, 34, also is accused of participating in the torture and killing of her son. She faces one count of murder with the special circumstance allegation of intentional murder by torture and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing on January 16.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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