A Los Angeles mother has pleaded guilty to the murder of her eight-year-old son, who was horrifically tortured until his death in May 2013. Pearl Sinthia Fernandez had killed Gabriel because her boyfriend thought the child was gay.
Fernandez filed her plea deal to first-degree murder on Thursday, 15 February, and also admitted a special circumstance accusation of murder involving torture. Prosecutors have revealed that the mother along with her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, had horrifically abused the boy.
Gabriel was found naked and with several injuries, including a fractured skull, broken ribs and burns when paramedics arrived at the boy's Palmdale home on 22 May, 2013. He died two days later in a hospital.
The couple had beat young Gabriel, shot him with a BB gun, fed him cat litter and faeces, and kept him bound and gagged in a container for days. They had also forced him to wear girl's clothes to school and used to taunt him by calling him gay, The Daily Mail reported.
Aguirre was convicted of first-degree murder in November 2017 with a jury recommending death sentence for him. His sentence hearing was scheduled for 8 March. During his trial in November, Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami had said: "This wasn't about drugs. This wasn't about mental health issues. [Aguirre] did it because he didn't like him ... he believed Gabriel was gay and to him that was a bad thing ... he did it out of hatred of a little boy."
"No human with a heart and soul could do that to an innocent little boy," he added.
The 37-year-old man's defence attorney had tried to blame Fernandez for the boy's murder, but prosecutors on Thursday disputed that argument. Hatami said, "They both pointed fingers at each other. The evidence showed, and our office believed, that they were both culpable."
Jurors were expected to seek death sentence for Fernandez, but her defence lawyers opposed it, arguing her low IQ made her disqualified for capital punishment. Her sentence hearing has been scheduled for 7 June without the possibility of parole, Los Angeles Times reported.
"You will never be paroled. You will never be released from prison. Do you understand and agree to this?" Hatami told her during the Thursday court proceeding. To which she replied, "Yes."
"It brings relief. I know she's never going to be out, and I know she's never going to hurt another child," Gabriel's cousin, Emily Carranza, said after the brief hearing.