Los Angeles (AFP) – A US man was sentenced to death on Thursday for the torture killing of his girlfriend’s eight-year-old son, who was beaten, starved and forced to sleep in a closet until his death in 2013.
The boy’s mother, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, was sentenced to life in prison for her role in the death of her son, Gabriel.
In sentencing Fernandez and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre, Los Angeles Superior Court judge George Lomeli described their actions as “nothing short of evil.”
The pair were arrested in 2013 after paramedics were called to a home in Palmdale, northeast of downtown Los Angeles, and found Gabriel unconscious and with a broken skull as well as broken ribs and BB pellets lodged in his groin. He died two days later after being taken off life support.
Prosecutors during Aguirre’s trial last year said he reveled in torturing the boy because he thought he was gay and forced him to eat cat feces and made him sleep in a small closet while gagged and bound.
Aguirre, 37, was convicted of first-degree murder in December and the jury recommended that he be sentenced to death.
Gabriel’s 34-year-old mother, who took part in the abuse, pleaded guilty in February to first-degree murder in exchange for a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
The case prompted sweeping reform in the child welfare system in Los Angeles and led to unprecedented criminal charges being filed against several social workers who had left Gabriel in his mother’s care despite numerous investigations into allegations of abuse.