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What Happened To Pearl Fernandez? An Update On What's Happened To Gabriel Fernandez's Mom Since The Documentary

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What Happened To Pearl Fernandez? An Update On What's Happened To Gabriel Fernandez's Mom Since The Documentary

Americans don't always agree on much but the Netflix documentary series The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez have us all united on one thing: the mother of Gabriel Fernandez is a monster. 

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The six-part Netflix series details the horrifying story of Gabriel Fernandez, a boy who died in 2013 after his mother and her boyfriend tortured and beat him to death over a period of eight months. Pearl Fernandez and her fiancé Isauro (Tony) Agguire were arrested for the brutal slaying of the child and the Los Angeles County DA took the highly unusual step of asking for the death penalty. What's more, the DA arrested and charged four social workers in the murder because it became clear that they had failed to adequately report on the situation and protect Gabriel from what was undoubtedly horrific abuse. 

Pearl Fernandez was the first defendant int the case to go to court. What happened to Pearl Fernandez — and where is she now?

1. Pearl Fernandez didn't want her third child.

Fernandez was 23 with two other children when she got pregnant with Gabriel. In the documentary, Fernandez' family and Gabriel's biological father, Arnold Contreras, all acknowledged that she didn't want another baby at the time. Ultimately her uncle Michael Lemos Carranza and his partner David Martinez,  offered to raise the child if she would give birth to him.  “She didn’t want him and the family didn't want her to have him,” Martinez said in the series. “We convinced her to have Gabriel and for her to give it to us so we will raise it.”

She reportedly left the hospital without the baby after Gabriel was born and when she called Martinez and Carranza, she said "Come and get your kid, he's getting on my nerves already.” The two men took the baby in and raised him until he was 4 years old.

2. Gabriel's grandparents took custody of him when he was 4. 

Eventually, the little boy's grandparents Robert and Sandra Fernandez wanted to raise him because they objected to Martinez and Carranza's sexuality. “[Robert] said that two gay guys shouldn’t be raising a kid,” Martinez said. They reportedly thought he was becoming gay just from being around the two men.

When Gabriel was 7, his mother decided she wanted to take him in and his grandparents agreed to it. But her motives were less maternal than monetary: she allegedly wanted the higher welfare payment and not the responsibility of raising her son. 

3. Pearl Fernandez was troubled herself.

Fernandez has a long history of mental health issues and trauma behind her. As we learn in the documentary, during post-arrest interviews, it came out that she had a depressive disorder, a suspected developmental disability, possible personality disorder, and possible PTSD. She claimed she was abused by her family and boyfriends, including Aguirre, and raped by a number of men, though in the documentary Fernandez' family members claim that she was the one who was actually abusive. She reportedly began using drugs at the age of 9, which could have contributed to her developmental delays. Her formal education ended at the 8th grade level. 

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4. She participated in beating her son and may have even instigated it.

As much as Fernandez's defense team wanted to say that she wasn't entirely culpable in her son's death and that Aguirre did most of the physical abuse, her family suggests otherwise. Relatives said that she had a history of violent fights with past boyfriends and even had a domestic abuse charge in her past. Moreover, she was participating in the cover-up of the torture of Gabriel by telling her other children, and Gabriel himself, to lie about what was happening and how he got his injuries. 

She and Aguirre together beat the boy, shot him with BBs guns, locked him in a cabinet, forced him to eat cat litter, and ultimately killed him. Social services were alerted to the problem but never intervened properly, leading to the boy's death.  

Netflix made a documentary about his story. 

5. She faced the death penalty when she was charged.

In 2013, Fernandez was charged with first-degree murder and intentional murder by torture. The Los Angeles district attorney was going to ask for the death penalty for her. However, rather than risk being sentenced to death, Fernandez pled guilty and admitted to the torture charge in exchange for life without the possibility of parole.

6. What happened to Pearl Fernandez? She's now serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

In court at her sentencing in 2018, she read an apology statement saying, "I want to say I'm sorry for what happened. 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 judge in the case wasn't having it, however. He spoke from the bench that day condemning Fernandez. Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli said Fernandez's "conduct was horrendous, inhumane and nothing short of evil. You want to say that the conduct was animalistic, but that would be wrong because even animals know how to take care of their young, some to the extent that they would sacrifice their own lives in caring for their young."

"I can only wish ... that in the middle of the night you wake up, and you think of the injuries that you subjected on this poor young man, this poor 7-year-old, and that it tortures you," Lomeli concluded.

Pearl Fernandez is serving her sentence at California's Chowchilla State Women’s Prison. 

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.

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