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New Netflix Docuseries “The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez” Dives into the Story of What Really Happened to 8-Year-Old Gabriel Fernandez

An 8-year-old boy is the central character of a new 6-part docuseries on Netflix called “The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez,” directed by Brian Knappenberger. The docuseries examines the life and horrendous torture and murder of young Gabriel Fernandez. This unsettling case has gained a lot of popularity, not only in the Los Angeles area, but in the United States. February 26, 2020 was the release date and managed to get #2 in Twitter’s trending topics. Furthermore, it left many watchers speechless, mad, confused, and heart broken. 

How could the system that is designed to protect children, have been a contributing factor to his death? How could they not see the obvious signs of abuse that were going on? More importantly, why didn’t anybody listen?

Gabriel Fernandez was raised by family members up until 2012, when Gabriel moved in with his mom and her boyfriend. His family remembers him being a normal happy boy, loved to play with others and was very sweet. In 2012, he was relocated to live with his mom and her boyfriend. Tragically, only eight months after moving in with them, little Gabriel Fernandez passed away due to serious trauma all over his body.

What Are The Facts? 

The Local Police:

Sheriffs were called by family members of Gabriel Fernandez multiple times while he was staying with his mother and her boyfriend. However, no action or investigations were launched. Gabriel’s mother, Pearl Fernandez, told sheriffs multiple times that the boy was a liar. Sheriffs even threatened Gabriel, that if he kept lying, he would be the one to be put in jail, and also put him in the back of their cruiser. Time after time, How could they not believe the child, who was the one who had bruises and marks all over his face and body? It doesn’t make sense. 

Disturbing 911 call: 

Initially, Pearl Fernandez and boyfriend Isauro Aguirre, had called 911 to report that their child (Gabreil Fernandez) had stopped breathing. They claimed that Gabriel had fallen and hit his head on a dresser. Furthermore, Isauro Aguirre also told 911 dispatchers and EMT that the boy was gay, which confused them because it had nothing to do with the life or death situation at hand. Once the paramedics arrived at the scene, they found Gabriel naked and in a full cardiac arrest. From the bruises on his body, they thought that Gabriel had a skin disease. Paramedics also report Pearl and Isauro asking questions that were irrelevant to Gabriel’s condition. 

At the Hospital:

When Gabriel Fernandez arrived at the hospital, he was a level 3 patient which is the highest level of priority. Furthermore, when the hospital doctors discovered both new and old bruises, skull fractures, burns, broken ribs, BB pellets, and several other abrasions that didn’t line up with that original story. Nurses and doctors with years of experience, explain how they had never seen something of that nature, especially a little boy, a child. 

The Evidence:

Little Gabriels autopsy took two days to complete. Two days to visit each bruise, crack, tear, along with examinations of organs to find his final cause of death. They ruled it a homicide. Pearl along with her boyfriend fed him cat litter and forced him to eat his own throw up, they put a bandana and sock in his mouth, knocked out his teeth with a bat, shot him in the face with a BB gun, and pepper sprayed him as a “joke” while he was in the bathtub. Gabriels teacher reported numerous times that Gabriel had bruises and scabs on his face, burns, and shaved patches of hair. When the forensic investigator visited the home, there was an abundant amount of blood on the walls, floors, bats, and furniture. The evidence provided to match the DNA OF Gabriel Fernandez. One piece of extensive evidence was the thymus gland, usually its 100 grams for a boy of Gabriel’s age, however, his gland was only 10 grams. Gabriel’s Thymus gland was barely there, caused by stress atrophy due to all the abuse inflicted on Gabriel. 

The Trials:

Prosecutors of the case sought the death penalty for both Pearl Fernandez and Isauro Aguirre, however, at the end Aguirre was sentenced to death, and Fernandez received life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors also brought charges against four social workers by accusing them of limiting “the significance of the physical, mental and emotional injuries that Gabriel suffered,” and allowing “a vulnerable boy to remain at home and continue to be abused.” The social workers were each charged with one felony count of child abuse and one felony count of falsifying public records. Prosecutors failed to prove their accusations, but have asked for a rehearing on the social worker case. During the trial, prosecutors also found that Pearl Fernandez used drugs at an early age which stopped brain development, was diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and eating disorders. Her brain scans also indicated that she had abnormalities. Although Aguirre was the prime abuser, the jury and prosecutors believe that Fernandez would instruct him to do so. 

The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez was very hard to watch, but also very powerful in informing and advocating that the system needs to change. The department of family and protective services continues to demonstrate a lack of initiative and investigation attentiveness. The program that is supposed to help and protect children has failed so many kids, and Gabriel Fernandez is a prime example of that. In the United States, about three million reports of child abuse are made every year. There are many forms of child maltreatment, including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation and emotional abuse.If you or  someone you know are experiencing abuse, the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is a 24-hour hotline with resources to aid in every child abuse situation. Call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) for help.

I am a sophomore at the University of North Texas. I joined HerCampus in Fall of 2019 and I am a part of the PR team. I dont always write, but when I do, just know its good. I'm not too big on social media, but if you want to follow me my IG is @21.wen (:
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