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Jurors Vote for Death Penalty in California Murder Case

A jury recommended the death penalty for Isauro Aguirre earlier this week on Wednesday. Aguirre was convicted of murder for fatally torturing the eight-year-old son of his girlfriend. 

Gabriel Fernandez suffered prolonged and pronounced abuse at the hands of Aguirre. On May 22, 2013, paramedics were called to Fernandez' home in Palmdale where they found Gabriel unconscious with a cracked skull, broken ribs, burned and bruised skin, missing teeth, and BB pellets in his groin. The boy died two days later after being taken off life support.

During the trial, the prosecution revealed that Aguirre forced Gabriel to eat cat feces and his own vomit. Gabriel slept in a small cabinet, gagged with a sock and his ankles and hands bound. According to Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami, Aguirre hated Gabriel because he believed the child was gay. 

Gabriel's death spurred criminal charges against several Los Angeles County social workers who did not remove the boy from his mother and boyfriend's home despite six investigations into abuse allegations. Gabriel's mother, Peal Sinthia Fernandez, is also charged with murder and will stand trial next month.

Aguirre's public defender asked the jury for mercy, and explained that Aguirre possibly has a learning disorder and was terrified of going to prison. In closing argument, the prosecution urged the jury to show as much mercy to Aguirre as Aguirre showed to Gabriel. After seven hours of deliberation over three days, the jury recommended Aguirre be sentenced to death. 

Currently, there are over 700 offenders on California's death row. The last to be executed in California was Clarence Ray Allen in 2006. Men on death row in California are housed in San Quentin State Prison. 

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