The man charged with killing eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez in 2013 was handed the death penalty Wednesday. Jurors decided on their verdict after hearing accounts of repeated abuse that led to the boy's death.
Now the fate of 37-year-old Isauro Aguirre rests in the hands of the judge, who is likely to decide in March. If the recommendation holds, Aguirre will join some 700 California inmates currently on death row.
People sentenced to death in the state often appeal that decision, starting a process that can take decades. The last execution in California happened in 2006. A death sentence isn't likely to result in a timely execution, says Harry Litman, a constitutional law professor at UCLA:
For one, there have been no executions in over ten years, and when that happens in states like in Pennsylvania, a sort of stasis comes in. It's almost a fait accompli of there not being executions quickly and in bulk.
My best guess would be that he will be sentenced to death, but that it will be many years — the average is over 10 — until a sentence would be carried out. My best guess is it would never be carried out.