The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez is the latest true-crime documentary series of Netflix that everybody is talking about and viewers cannot believe what they are witnessing. In 2013, eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez was found severely injured in his family home after suffering months of torture at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend. He died two days later in hospital. Not only is the murder trial spine-tingling, but his case also exposed numerous failing of the Los Angeles child protection services.
Is Pearl Fernandez still in prison? How did she avoid the death penalty?
Pearl Fernandez is still in prison, as is her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre.
The couple were found guilty of murdering eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez, who died on May 24, 2013.
Pearl is currently serving her life sentence at Chowchilla State Women’ Prison and Isauro is on death row at the San Quentin Jail, both situated in California.
Isauro is one of 737 inmates on death row, the largest death row population in the western world.
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However, since 1976, only 13 executions have been carried out, with the last taking place in 2006 so Isauro’s execution is unlikely to take place anytime soon.
As seen in the documentary, presiding Superior Court Judge George G Lomeli at there sentencing hearing in 2018 told the pair: “I hope you think about the pain you caused this child and that it tortures you.”
Isauro was found guilty of first-degree murder with an additional special circumstance of intentional murder by torture on November 15, 2017.
On February 24, 2018, Pearl pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.
Whereas Isauro was sentenced to death, Pearl was immune from receiving the death penalty.
Pearl avoided the death penaltyafter entering a plea deal which would see her plead guilty and receive a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
The Atlantic reported that Pearl’s attorney’s proposed a plea deal that would see Pearl accept life in prison without the possibility of parole or appeal if the prosecution would agree to drop its push for the death penalty.
Pearl’s defence attorney had argued that due to her low IQ, the death penalty would be “inappropriate.”
Deborah S Miora, a clinical and forensic neuropsychologist who evaluated Fernandez for the defence, concluded that she has an intellectual disability that makes her “virtually unable to use thought to guide her behaviour and temper her emotional reactions.”
Miora’s report also drew upon Pearl’s troubled childhood and er experience of abuse and neglect from a young age.
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In the Netflix documentary, Wendy Smith of the University of Southern California’s school of social work shared with producers that Pearl suffered from a depressive disorder, developmental disability, possible personality disorder and possible PTSD.
Pearl had told Miora that she had been abused by her mother and past romantic partners and had been raped by several men.
In the documentary, Elizabeth Carranza, Gabriel’s great-aunt, said that while some people perceive Pearl as a victim, she was also “abusive.”
She said: “if you knew Pearl, Pearl was never the victim.”
In the month leading up to her son’s death, Pearl admitted to the court she had been taking excessive doses of opioid painkillers, including OxyContin and Norco.
Pearl’s other children and Gabriel’s siblings, asked the prosecutor Jon Hatami to accept the plea deal, so they would not have to testify against their mother.
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The LA Times reported at the hearing, Pearl said: “I want to say I’m sorry to my family for what I did…. I wish Gabriel was alive.
“Every day I wish that I’d made better choices. I’m sorry to my children, and I want them to know that I love them.”
The director of The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez tried to contact Pearl and Isauro for the documentary but they never responded.
Brian Knappenberger told The Wrap: “We tried very hard to talk to them…We set up a mechanism where they could call us from prison and they had my personal number.
“For six months, I carried around the questions I wanted to ask them in my back pocket because I never knew when and if they were going to call. We also wrote them many letters.”
The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez is streaming on Netflix now
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