Crime & Justice

Death penalty recommended for killer of 8-year-old Palmdale boy Gabriel Fernandez

Gabriel Fernandez, 8, of Palmdale, was tortured and murdered, allegedly by his mother and her boyfriend.
Gabriel Fernandez, 8, of Palmdale, was tortured and murdered, allegedly by his mother and her boyfriend.
NBC L.A.

Jurors recommended the death penalty for Palmdale man Isauro Aguirre on Wednesday, convicted in the torture and murder of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez. The same jury convicted 37-year-old Aguirre last month of first-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend's son.

Aguirre showed no reaction as jurors made their recommendation in a Los Angeles courtroom. Formal sentencing for Aguirre is set for March 8.

Prosecutors say he starved, bound and brutalized the boy for months and then tortured him to death in 2013. The boy's head-to-toe injuries included a fractured skull.

Aguirre's attorney, Michael Sklar, argued that his client attacked the boy while in a rage and hadn't intended to kill him.

The case spotlighted deficiencies in the Los Angeles County Child Welfare system and resulted in charges against two social workers and their two supervisors. All four no longer work for the county.

The boy's mother, Perla Sinthia Fernandez, is awaiting trial — as are the former L.A. County social workers, for allegedly ignoring the boy's plight and trying to cover up their negligence.

This story has been updated.