“Worst Mother in the World” and Boyfriend Take Plea Deal For Torture Murder of 8 Year Old Son They Feared was “Gay”
Palmdale, California – The mother of an eight-year-old son she despised for being “gay,” and her live-in boyfriend have pled guilty to first degree murder and torture under special circumstances in exchange for avoiding the death penalty. Pearl Fernandez and her sometime lover, Isauro Aguirre, took life in prison without hope of parole, and agreed to waive any appeal to their sentence in the horrific case of young Gabriel Fernandez. Paramedics were called to the couple’s apartment on May 22, 2013 because Gabriel had stopped breathing. He died two days later. According to court testimony by Gabriel’s older sibling Ezequiel, an eye witness to the repeated beatings and torture inflicted on his younger brother, Pearl Fernandez had beaten her child into unconsciousness, and then fearful of discovery, ordered her older child to fabricate a story about an accident in the Palmdale apartment so the adults could escape prosecution for his murder. The paramedics found Gabriel naked, with cracked ribs, burns, and BB shot in his lung and in his groin area. As quoted in the Antelope Valley Press, Paramedic James Cermak said, “It was like sensory overload. There was burn marks, there was BB holes, bruises in various stages of healing, [it] looked like his ankles were broken. It was like every inch of this boy had been abused.” Cermak added, “We noticed that he had bruising all over his body, he had strangulation marks around his neck, and looked like his teeth had been knocked out.” When Cermak asked Pearl Fernandez about the situation “she became very defensive,” he said, and blamed the unconscious boy for fighting with his brother and being “a dirty boy.” According to NBC Los Angeles, the couple were arrested the day following Gabriel’s discovery for capital murder and torture. Though they both entered a plea of not guilty, a Grand Jury indicted them both in August for one of the most horrendous cases of child abuse and homophobia in Southern California history.
Testimony earlier this year established that Pearl Fernandez and her then-boyfriend Isauro Aguirre locked the boy in a dark closet for hours at a time, stuffed socks in his mouth to prevent him from crying out, repeatedly beat him, psychologically harmed him, and on at least one occasion forced him to eat cat feces and his own vomit as punishment for playing with dolls and acting “gay.” They whipped Gabriel with the metal end of a leather belt for a period of at least eight months, hit him with a bat, knocked his teeth out with a club, and tortured the boy with pepper spray. Though Gabriel was being overseen by the Department of Children and Family Services, at least four social workers who missed or ignored the signs of repeated abuse were dismissed from service in the public uproar over the case. After a total of no fewer than seven reports of suspected child abuse from sources including Gabriel’s teacher, the social workers did not investigate the allegations thoroughly enough to remove the boy from what amounted to a torture chamber of horrors. A blue-ribbon panel formed in the fallout from the case issued a scorching report mandating changes in the way at risk children are overseen in Los Angeles County. Gabriel’s maternal grandmother has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county and the DCFS.
While there is plenty of blame to go around in the horrific torture murder of the eight-year-old, the fact of the active savagery of a mother, deemed otherwise sane, against her own child for whatever reason prompted Gay Star News to dub Pearl Fernandez “The Worst Mother in the World.” According to the Antelope Valley Press, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Jonathan Beck testified in court that on the night of Gabriel’s discovery, Pearl expressed little or no concern for her child. When prosecutors asked Deputy Beck if she showed concern for anything, he said, “Her cats.” The depth of hatred for LGBTQ people shown by the punishment rained down on Gabriel by Aguirre and Fernandez is hard to fathom. For allegedly playing with dolls, they humiliated him by forcing him to wear girls’ clothing, ridiculed him in front of his siblings, and tortured him beyond belief. Apparently, these two adults believed that blaming an eight-year-old child for being “gay” somehow mitigated and justified what they did to him. It also betokens that his own mother would rather have a dead son than a gay one.
Now, according to an organization posting on Facebook as “Gabriel’s Justice,” Fernandez and Aguirre’s guilty plea and the life-without-parole sentence finally brings some sense of closure to this outrageous case. For the advocates for Gabriel, there was never a doubt that the couple would be found guilty of this heinous crime, for putting Gabriel through such hell for so many months of his young life. The group expressed relief that years of appeals could now be avoided. Now, the fear to which these people subjected an innocent child would now be visited on them with a vengeance. “The two would sit on death row for over 30 years utilizing appeal after appeal with no closure for anyone,” the Gabriel’s Justice web master said in a post on Facebook. “Both will be placed in general population, there’s no safety house for them. This would not be true on Death Row.” With a sense of some vindication, the post is summed up with these words: “Justice has been served.”
Dallas, Texas – After three years of delays and postponements, the trial of the accused murderer of openly gay Richard Hernandez begins today. The Dallas Voice, doing great journalistic work on this difficult case, announced the story on November 10, quoting first assistant Denton County district attorney Jamie Beck on the trial delays, “Everybody wants a swifter and quicker justice, but you’ve got to do it right. Bottom line, we want justice, so if that means it takes a while, then so be it.”
The “Silence of the Lambs” style murder of 38-year-old Hernandez, an employee of Walmart, drew national press attention in September 2008 when the victim’s viscera but no body was discovered in an apartment in far North Dallas. When Hernandez, a conscientious employee, did not report for work, his friends prevailed on the apartment superintendent to open his residence, and what they found resembled a slaughterhouse. Copious amounts of blood spattered the walls. Hernandez’s body was never found, but tissue from it was left, dumped in the bathtub. Dallas Police acted quickly to track down the killer. True Crime reported that the DPD filed capital murder charges against Seth Winder, 29, a homeless man with a history of erratic behavior and mental illness, even though they did not have possession of a body in the case–only the third time in thirty years of police department history.
Winder was located because of credit card charges he made to Hernandez’s stolen cards after the murder date. Police apprehended Winder in a tent inThe Colony, where he was in possession of personal items of the victim and a bloody sword that may have been used in the dismemberment. The Dallas Voice reports the police conclusion that the killer disposed of the body in a trash dumpster which was emptied in a landfill, making Hernandez’s remains unrecoverable.
Winder’s competence to stand trial was hotly contested in the earlier days of the case. His father and stepmother told the press that their son was a schizophrenic who had once tried to strangle his own mother. Friends of Hernandez contended that Winder was just clever enough to play ill in order to avoid responsibility for the grisly murder. The whole stew was made nastier by the report of police investigators that they discovered a digital camera belonging to Hernandez with “pornographic images” of Winder. The victim’s friends and family vigorously denied the implication that Hernandez and Winder were in a sexual relationship. In the end, Winder was ruled incompetent to stand trial.
Hernandez’s mother will not be there today to see if justice will be done for her son. She died with the story unresolved, thanks in part to a strategy of delays put in place by Winder’s legal defense team, and to the untimely publication of a book on the murder authored by Winder’s own stepmother.
Now, after years of treatment, authorities say Seth Winder is able to face his day in court. Jury selection has begun, and barring other delays, three years of agonized waiting are about to conclude for Richard Hernandez’s friends and remaining family.