Jury Must Now Decide On Death Penalty for Man Convicted of Torture Death of Gabriel Fernandez

November 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A Palmdale man was convicted Wednesday of the torture-killing of his girlfriend’s 8-year-old son, whose short life and agonizing death also led to a murder charge against his mother and criminal counts against social workers accused of ignoring his plight.

Isauro Aguirre, 37, was convicted of first-degree murder and faces a possible death sentence for the killing of Gabriel Fernandez, who was routinely beaten, shot with a BB gun, forced to eat cat feces and sleep while gagged and bound inside a small cabinet. Along with convicting Aguirre of murder, the seven-woman, five-man jury found true a special circumstance allegation of murder involving the infliction of torture.

The jury deliberated for about 5 1/2 hours over two days before reaching its verdict late Wednesday morning.

Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli ordered jurors to return to the downtown Los Angeles courtroom Nov. 27 for the start of the penalty phase of Aguirre’s trial, in which they will be asked to recommend whether Aguirre should be sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Gabriel’s mother, 34-year-old Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, is still awaiting trial for the boy’s May 2013 death. Prosecutors are also seeking the death penalty for her.

Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami embraced the boy’s biological father in court after the verdict.

Hatami told reporters later that what the two discussed was “private,” saying, “I’m a dad and he’s a dad.”

“Some justice, I think, has been served by this verdict, and maybe some closure can be felt by Gabriel’s family as far as at least they feel that the system … is trying to make some things right, and maybe this is a small part of that, maybe,” said Hatami, who described himself as a “survivor” of child abuse at age 4 and 5.

Amanda Nevarez Terr– who created the Facebook page Gabriel’s Justice that has been liked by nearly 80,000 people – said it was “quite emotional” to hear the jury’s verdict.

“It’s a hard feeling because it’s very emotional because it’s not quite a win because the win would have been Gabriel still alive,” she said. “We no longer have to worry about this particular person out on the streets doing this to another child.”

One of Aguirre’s attorneys, Michael Sklar, acknowledged during the trial that Aguirre killed the boy, but told jurors Monday in his closing argument the defendant “acted in a rage of anger followed by an explosion of violence” and not with the deliberation and premeditation required for first-degree
murder. He argued that jurors should convict his client of the lesser count of second-degree murder.

Hatami called Aguirre an “evil” man who “liked torturing” the boy and did so systematically in the months leading up to the child’s death. Aguirre hated Gabriel because he thought the boy was gay, according to the prosecutor, who began his closing argument by displaying a photo of Gabriel’s
battered body lying on an autopsy table – covered in injuries head to toe – as evidence of Aguirre’s intent to kill the boy.

“You can’t believe a person in our society would intentionally murder a child,” Hatami said, comparing the abuse to that suffered by a prisoner of war.

“Believe it, because it happened. This was intentional murder by torture,” he told the jury. “Do not go back in the jury room and make excuses for the defendant … this had nothing to do with drugs … this had nothing to do with mental health issues.”

Hatami – who is handling the case with colleague Scott Yang – said in the months leading up to the boy’s death, Gabriel was “being starved and punched and kicked and abused and beaten … he was belittled, bullied and called gay. His teeth were knocked out. He was tied up every night in a box.
… Gabriel was dying.”

The prosecutor painted a picture of Aguirre sleeping in a comfortable bed night after night while, in the same room, Gabriel was bound and gagged inside a small cabinet with a “sock in his mouth, a shoelace (tying) up his hands, a bandanna over his face” and his ankles handcuffed

“To force a child to eat cat litter and cat feces, more than once, how does somebody do that?” Hatami asked, referring to testimony by Gabriel’s older brother.

He alleged that the 6-foot-2, 270-pound defendant punched and kicked Gabriel hard enough to dent the walls of the family’s apartment and leave the boy unconscious, then – with help from the boy’s mother – hid some of the child’s bloody clothing and moved a picture to cover up one of the biggest
indentations before calling 911.

The defense contended that Aguirre never meant to kill the child, but Hatami sought to undercut that claim, telling jurors in his summation of the case that Aguirre hated the boy. The couple only took him from his maternal grandparents so that they could collect welfare payments for his care, the
prosecutor said.

“Gabriel was a gentler boy, a sweeter boy (than his brother) and the defendant hated him because of that … he believed Gabriel was gay,” Hatami said. “This stressful situation and rage thing is a lie … because it’s not supported by the evidence. The defendant actually liked torturing Gabriel. He
got off on it … he is a murderer and he is a torturer.”

Sklar acknowledged “unspeakable acts of abuse over a period of time” by his client, but urged the panel as a matter of law to focus only on the evening of May 22, 2013, when Gabriel endured the beating that caused his death.

Aguirre was angry because Gabriel had asked his mother to leave Aguirre and then denied saying so, calling his mother a liar in front of Aguirre, the defense attorney said.

“Isauro exploded in a rage of anger” and later “described his anger as a 20 on a scale of 10” to a detective, Sklar said. “He was completely out of control.”

But once his client realized Gabriel was unconscious, “he immediately took steps to begin to revive him,” the defense attorney said, telling jurors that Aguirre had run cold water over the boy while “repeatedly hollering his name” and told the boy’s mother to call 911 for help.

He said his client realized that a call to 911 would result in his arrest, and described Aguirre’s subsequent statements to investigators as “genuine remorse” for what he had done rather than expressions of self-pity for his own predicament.

Aguirre’s attorney also asked jurors why the last attack on the child occurred while two of his siblings – who testified during Aguirre’s trial – were home and why the boy’s body was not disposed of in an effort to conceal what had happened to him if his client intended to kill the boy.

The attorney also alleged that Gabriel’s mother was the one who hit the boy with a belt, shot him with a BB gun and was responsible for much of the abuse prior to his death.

Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel went to the family’s home in the 200 block of East Avenue Q-10 in Palmdale in response to a call that Gabriel was not breathing. He was declared brain-dead that day and taken off life support two days later.

Aguirre and the boy’s mother have been jailed without bail since being charged in May 2013 with the boy’s death. The two were subsequently indicted by a Los Angeles County grand jury.

Two former Los Angeles County social workers – Stefanie Rodriguez and Patricia Clement – and supervisors Kevin Bom and Gregory Merritt were charged last year with one felony count each of child abuse and falsifying public records in connection with the case.
 

Father Gets 25 Years to Life for Killing 5-Year-Old Son

August 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A South Pasadena father who admitted killing his 5-year-old son, whose body was found in Santa Barbara County after a roughly two-month search, was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years to life in prison.

Aramazd Andressian Sr., 35, pleaded guilty Aug. 1 to first-degree murder for killing his son, Aramazd Andressian Jr., who was known as “Piqui.”

Andressian had planned to speak during the sentencing hearing, but opted against it when Superior Court Judge Cathryn Brougham told the defendant his testimony would have to be given under oath and subject to cross-examination.

Andressian’s attorney, Ambrosio Rodriguez, spoke on his behalf, saying, “I want to pass on his deep, deep regret and remorse as to what happened.”

Rodriguez said there were “no words to justify what happened,” while noting that his client quickly took responsibility for his actions after being arrested, pleading guilty early in the criminal case.

The boy’s mother, and Andressian’s estranged wife, Ana Estevez, lashed out at the defendant in court, tearfully describing him as a “failure as a father, a man and a human being.”

Speaking through tears, Estevez said, “On April 22, my life was thrown into a chaos that can only be described as cataclysmic devastation,” referring to the day her son disappeared.

“Everything good in my life is missing since my son Piqui was taken from me,” she said. “I wish that I was taken instead of my son.”

Andressian was initially arrested April 22, then released three days later due to lack of evidence. He was arrested again June 23 in Las Vegas, sporting dyed light-colored hair, and was returned to Los Angeles County June 30 after waiving extradition.

The boy’s body was found the same day near the Lake Cachuma Recreation Area in Santa Barbara County, in an area that had been searched before.

Authorities said Andressian killed his son in the midst of a bitter divorce from Estevez. A sheriff’s official said Wednesday the boy was smothered.

Speaking outside court Wednesday, Estevez had harsh words for the family court system and the Department of Children and Family Services social workers involved in her bitter custody battle with Andressian.

“The system failed my son and it was this injustice that ultimately led to Piqui’s death,” Estevez told reporters outside the Alhambra Courthouse.

“The evil man that committed this heinous act will receive justice in this life and the next, I have no doubt about that,” she said. “However, true justice has yet to be served. The system that failed my son will be addressed and held accountable for their incompetent actions, their horrific and uninformed decision-making when presented with undeniable evidence and their belief that they can make decisions that destroy lives and not be held accountable for such injustices.”

She singled out three DCFS social workers and a supervisor involved in the case, saying she believes they “are partially responsible for my son’s death.”

“How dare you say that once a case is closed you do not reopen it, even after being asked repeatedly to further investigate allegations,” she said. “How dare you say that Aramazd Sr. kicking my son on his bottom and pinching his cheeks and yelling in his face that he was a bad boy was not enough to change custody, and that it was simply bad parenting.

“And to the DCFS social worker who wrote that the mother is more difficult than the father to deal with, I say to you all, shame on you. You had the audacity to criticize and scrutinize me when I was advocating for my son. I believe you are partially responsible for my son’s death. My son is another victim and statistic of the incompetence of this organization.”

DCFS officials responded that the agency “joins the community in mourning this senseless and tragic child death.”

“We are required by law to protect the privacy of any family we work with and cannot comment on the specifics of any case,” according to DCFS. “But, we want to assure the public that our social workers work every day to ensure the safety of children across our county and that we thoroughly assess every allegation of child abuse that is reported to us.

“And, we encourage the public to call DCFS anytime they have concerns about a child’s safety by calling our Child Protection Hotline at (800) 540-4000.”

“In my eyes and in my heart, when there is accountability for all, then justice will have been served,” Estevez said Wednesday. There will be justice for Piqui and justice for hundreds of other helpless children that have become victims of the broken system that currently exists.”

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