The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez (2020) s01e01 Episode Script

A Shock to the System

1 [operator.]
Nine, one, one, emergency? [Pearl Fernandez.]
Yes, um, I would like to, um, my son is not breathing.
Your son is what? [Pearl Fernandez.]
He's not breathing.
Hold on, one second.
I'm gonna transfer you over to the fire department.
Don't hang up.
[phone transfer beeps.]
[Isauro Aguirre.]
Oh, my God.
Um, my son is eight years old.
It's your son.
And he's not breathing? [Isauro.]
Is he having a seizure? [Isauro.]
He was, uh, wrestling with my other son.
And I came in and he just was unconscious.
Okay, I do have the paramedics on the way, right now.
- Are you right there with him? - [Isauro.]
I'm right here.
Do you know how to do CPR? [Isauro.]
Um, I'm doing the compressions on his chest, right now.
You need to breathe for him if he's not breathing.
You need to do two breaths and 30 compressions.
I just need you to keep doing that until the paramedics come.
Okay? They're on their way, they're coming as fast they can.
[sirens blaring.]
[sentimental music playing.]
I was the ambulance bay nurse.
The paramedics had called saying that they were bringing in this eight-year-old, that was in cardiac arrest and there was questionable trauma.
Definitely a situation didn't make sense, but they're coming in code three, like they're coming fast right now, like emergency.
[sirens blaring.]
This was the highest level of emergency.
It was a fishy situation.
We definitely knew we didn't have the whole story.
We just knew that it was bad and it was coming in.
We had a trauma surgeon, the ER doctor, the respiratory therapist so we could intubate if needed.
We want an OR ready.
We want blood bank.
Lab's there.
I mean everybody hands on.
We're ready.
We have everything ready to go.
[long beep.]
The EMS personnel had gotten his pulses back.
We did get that update, en-route.
So they had pulses when he first got there.
[music intensifies.]
As they're wheeling him in they're yelling out what's been going on, what they're doing, the situation at hand.
As soon as we moved him on our gurney, we felt for a pulse.
There was no pulse again.
So we immediately started resuscitating him.
And then we just give cardiac medications to help his heart start again.
We found out that he was very cold so you try warming measures.
We found out his hemoglobin was super low.
He needed blood.
We got him to CAT scan.
He coded again in CAT scan, and he lost his pulse again.
So we resuscitated him again, and got pulses back, finished the scans, got him back to the room.
At this point, I kind of stand back because since I'm the ambulance bay nurse, I'm going to chart everything that's happening.
It's a crazy mad house.
Everybody's around him, everybody's working on him, all hands on deck.
So I'm trying to chart, and as I'm like looking up and they're calling things out, I'm just, like, in awe, I can't even believe what they're telling me is what they're seeing.
He had a depressed skull fracture, meaning you could feel his skull.
You know, you feel your head and it's nice and round, his was like, dented, you could feel the like it's called crepitus, where it's almost like Rice Krispies.
You could feel it crunchy on his head.
I remember his throat just looked like somebody burned him.
Bruising and cuts all over his face.
Black eyes.
Cuts everywhere.
He had like a weird cut above his penis.
Abrasions like on the top of his foot, like he'd been dragged.
Ligature marks on his ankles, like he'd been tied up.
I mean every, every part on his body there was just something.
Oh, he's got a bullet in his lung.
Oh, he's got a bullet in his groin.
It's like Cigarette marks that he'd like people had been putting cigarettes out on him and different stages.
I mean, he'd have a bruise that looks like it's almost healed, bruises that look brand-new like burns, cuts, abrasions.
Everything you could think of, all over this kid.
All over him.
He didn't look like a child.
I just remember that night thinking, I I I just can't I just remember saying that I just can't, like I don't I can't wrap my head around this.
I can't wrap my head around how how it got to this.
[monitor beeping.]
I'll always remember his name.
You're sad.
You're angry.
You're sitting there thinking; oh, my God.
Not only do you not think he's going to make it, but how did these people do this to him? I mean, there's no way you couldn't have seen it.
There's so much trauma, so much damage.
And there's so many questions.
If CPS isn't doing anything about it, and the sheriffs aren't doing anything about it.
[voice breaking.]
How did this happen? [sentimental music.]
She said he slipped in the bathtub.
That was the 911 call, that he slipped in the bathtub.
[sentimental music continues.]
Children's Hospital gets there.
They have a whole critical care team that can take care of him.
So we transfer all the care over.
Then they wheel him out to Children's Hospital in LA.
And at that point, does he have a pulse? [Christene.]
You're standing in a trauma room that looks like everything was just blown out, 'cause there's just stuff everywhere.
And that's the first time that you have a second to breathe and think holy crap.
What just happened? And at that moment, that's when it was just hit me.
But, no, in the moment, you don't have time for that.
You can't think.
You can't stop.
You can't get emotional 'cause that he needs you.
[sentimental music continues.]
I remember the first time I ever did CPR on a kid, I'll always remember it and it was horrible, but it didn't affect me like this.
Nothing has affected me like this.
I thought this kid has never known love.
This kid has never known what it feels like to be hugged.
You know what I mean? And that just breaks your heart.
This was the case for me, you know in 14 years in the ER, this was the case that just has followed me from from that night.
I mean, I celebrate his birthday with my family.
We let balloons off.
[sentimental music continues.]
[sirens blaring.]
[sentimental music.]
[music intensifies.]
[dramatic music.]
[siren in distance.]
[man 2.]
At the point that Gabriel's case happened, I had been working at the LA Times for seven or eight years.
Was covering Los Angeles County government at the time.
It's the largest local government in the country.
My boss actually told me that I was the first person that ever asked to be on the beat.
Um And the reason why I wanted to be there, was because it was where, um very clearly, the elected officials were making life-and-death decisions.
One day I was looking at the homicide blog, which the LA Times maintains, that chronicles absolutely every single homicide in the in the county.
Gabriel's name was on there, his age, and the manner of death.
Started calling people up throughout the county infrastructure saying, you know, "have you heard about this boy?" Gabriel Fernandez was, at the time of his death, eight years old, still in first grade.
He had been raised by his uncle and his uncle's partner, initially in life.
Around age three or so, he went to his grandparents, and about six months before he died, he went to his mother and her boyfriend.
[man 3.]
The first time I heard about Gabriel Fernandez, it was just like any other story.
We get murders, we get deaths, all the time in LA.
[male reporter.]
Police said they found their murder suspect, in this motel in south LA [reporter 2.]
On the ground, you see some blood on the sidewalk.
[reporter 3.]
Screaming was heard at that house, cops were called out.
I mean it's unfortunately, not that uncommon.
And so when we heard it, well, yeah, it was a bad case.
I don't believe it even makes the paper.
There's a lot of stories that we'll put up on the web, that there's not enough room in the papers for them.
And this is one of them.
You know, it was the case of a kid who was killed, um, looked bad, and so be it.
[dramatic music.]
But the next step came when the Board of Supervisors picked up this case, and that now bounces it up a notch.
Yeah, I'm, I'm here to talk about young Gabriel Fernandez.
There's something about this kid's death that's a little bit unusual.
The supervisors have now taken notice.
The child was pronounced dead, May 24th, 2013, under DFS jurisdiction.
How does that make you guys feel? We thank you for your testimony.
Board of Supervisors, everybody knows who they are, but barely knows what they do.
They are the most powerful group in the city.
Once elected, they almost never get voted out.
They control just an enormous budget that surpasses a lot of states.
They are the largest employer in Southern California with over one hundred and seven thousand employees, currently.
They manage a budget of about 30 billion dollars, which is - [Brian.]
Thirty billion? - [Garrett.]
Thirty billion dollars.
They govern the Beaches and Harbors Department.
They manage the public hospitals.
Funding the sheriff's department, funding the District Attorney's office.
They wield enormous power over a population of about 10-12 million depending on the estimate for Los Angeles County.
They hold both legislative and executive powers.
Very little of the real substance of what they do is out in public.
They're truly, kind of, shadow kings.
One minute, as They supervise a wide array of agencies that basically make up the social safety net.
They control this one agency, which is just this sprawling organization that takes care of the welfare of children.
[dramatic music.]
Very soon after the news broke, that Gabriel had died, someone told me that the Department of Children Family Services had significant involvement in this case.
The social workers were under scrutiny because they were suspected of making very serious errors.
[music continues.]
- Hey, Shelby.
- Hi.
- How are you? - Good to see you.
Good to see you too.
Gary immediately started telling us there's a bigger story here that I'm hearing some really disturbing things about the way this case was handled and a lot of this from anonymous sources who were inside the department, but would not go on the record.
We knew there was a bigger story.
How did this happen? And how did a child who had so many signs of repeated and long-term abuse slip through the cracks? So the question was, could we uncover what was really going on? And we had the enormous challenge of trying to break through the secrecy.
Los Angeles county is the size of a lot of countries, but a big piece of that is the Department of Children and Family Services.
It's super hard to penetrate.
This is an agency that's built upon the concept of privacy and secrecy.
Although there are legitimate reasons for privacy, the bureaucrats have embraced secrecy to an extreme, that it's really detrimental.
If you cover the FBI, you know who's at the top of the FBI, and you know where all the Departments are and what they're doing.
When you cover DCFS you don't get a sense of the the sort of unity of this single beast, like you would of the CIA or the FBI or the Sheriff's Department.
It's such a sprawling organization with such differing mandates that you don't know, does one end know what the other end is doing.
You always felt that you were just scratching on the outside of it.
In this particular case, I think the curtain kind of came down.
And when it came down, it came down in a really hard way.
In one sense what I had to do was very simple.
I just needed to get something put in black and white, what I already had been told on the phone off the record.
But what it required was someone to really go out on a limb at the risk of their job and potentially even criminal liability.
And provide me something that my editors can rely upon, to tell the world what happened.
And if that didn't happen, you know, we're left with just a a news brief that nobody would have paid very much attention to.
[music playing.]
I knew there was a story, the only question was whether I was ever going to be able to tell it or not.
So we're we're on our way to see an important source on the Gabriel Fernandez story.
Because of the sensitivity surrounding all this, really the only thing we can say is that their experience runs deep in the county, and they're in a position to have a document that is very tightly held.
The source wants to meet in a hotel.
The county protects its own.
The employees of the county and the people who run it, refer to it as "the county family.
" The workers and officials there, it feels as if they're on the same team, and reporters are definitely on the opposing team.
The county has launched leak investigations at various points, to figure out who was talking to me.
They did a search of every single email I'd ever sent to a county address, and they looked at how any county employees had responded to those emails.
They searched every email.
What must have been thousands of emails, and reviewed what I was asking, and what I got in response.
So the county has pursued my sources extremely aggressively, and they have threatened them with criminal prosecution.
[elevator ding.]
Our goal is not to get this person into further jeopardy or to, you know, to make them put them in a more vulnerable position than they already are, what we want to know is what they know.
The source just wants to approach everything very incrementally, and ease into this conversation, right here.
- Um, it wasn't an easy sell to do.
- Yeah.
I guess what we've settled on is that we're gonna record sound only.
[dramatic music.]
Start with what you can about your position, who you are, and how you came cross this information.
[anonymous source.]
I'd been working for the county for a while in a position that occasionally allowed me to get access to confidential reports on sensitive matters that might pose political concerns.
Some years ago, the county initiated procedures to investigate internally shortcomings in handling of child abuse cases.
County officials wanted to know as much as possible, as quickly as possible, about the really bad cases.
You know, there has to be political accountability.
You've got elected officials and they're the ones ultimately who're gonna have to answer for this in the court of public opinion.
And maybe at the ballot box.
So give us all a sense of what you saw.
[anonymous source.]
When the report first came out, it was obvious that this was a really, awful, serious, possible turning-point kind of case, since the department had been established in the mid-1980s.
The nature of the repeated injuries.
I mean shooting a child with a BB gun.
Repeated beatings.
Visible external injuries.
The fact that it had gone on for a long time, the fact that there had been numerous reports, from various mandated reporters, like the child's teacher.
I think there was a security guard at a County Welfare Office, who noticed something and tried to phone it in.
The sheriff's deputies had gone out to investigate.
Several social workers had been involved.
The mother had a bad track record with other children, and he just seemed staggering.
Unbelievable that this had gone on, and nothing serious had been done, I mean, right up until the bitter end.
Ultimately, the moral decision has trumped everything and that's it.
And it's the only way anything's gonna change.
Even though it was breaking the law to release that report, and breaching protocol, and breaching trust and legal obligations, but whatever the penalty might be for taking that risk, it is better than allowing the suffering to go on, unchallenged.
But we really didn't know, the extent of it until Garrett was able to get the document.
These documents were exactly what the sources told they'd be.
They really were a devastating outline of what happened to this child.
Once we had the documents, we could really say, well, we have in black and white a timeline of what went wrong, and so that's really what blew it all open.
[dramatic music continues.]
We moved the story fast.
There was no bullshit on this story.
There wasn't any of the normal, sort of, teeth-gnashing and second-guessing.
When we saw the material, we were like Let's get this in the paper.
As soon as the front page story went online, it rattled people from all ideological perspectives, every political persuasion.
This was a story that could not be ignored.
[news anchor.]
NBC 4's Lolita Lopez is live in Palmdale, where a protest is underway.
That's right, Lucy, and it started about an hour ago, and they're still here, asking cars to honk and chanting "justice for Gabriel.
" [Garrett.]
There was an enormous outcry.
Certainly the biggest case in a generation to really galvanize the public.
There were protests like we had never seen.
Now the worst-case scenario has taken place.
Our group is mad and there's enough.
It's enough.
It started off as an obscure story, became a middling story, and quickly ascended to becoming a really overwhelming story.
And so, what's next? [woman.]
Hi, I am Los Angeles County District Attorney, Jackie Lacey.
Jackie Lacey was the county's top prosecutor when Gabriel Fernandez died.
She also happens to be the, um, the county's first African American, and first woman to ever lead this department.
[Jackie Lacey.]
The LA County District Attorney's office is the largest local prosecutor's office in the nation.
We have about a thousand lawyers.
We handle probably 16,000 cases, every month.
We serve about ten million people.
Before I got elected, I was in this office for about 28 years.
[tense music.]
In the DA's office you were exposed to a lot of gory photos.
Some of our prosecutors probably attend live autopsies.
And in some sense, you are desensitized sometimes from looking at a lot of this material.
With, um, Gabriel Fernandez's case, it was so graphic.
You just won't forget it.
There's a smiling photo that appears in the paper all the time, but that's not what I think of.
What I think of when you mentioned that case is I'll remember those initial photos before he died.
Having signs of abuse, and realizing that something could have been done back then, so that that kid could be alive.
That will be the image I have in my head for the rest of my life.
[male reporter.]
A single candle burns tonight in the apparent beating death of an eight-year-old boy inside his Palmdale home How a mother and her live-in boyfriend have been charged with capital murder in the beating death of her eight-year-old son.
[reporter 2.]
Twenty-nine-year-old Pearl Fernandez is jailed on a $100,000 bond.
Her boyfriend, 32-year-old Isauro Aguirre, is also in custody, his bail a million dollars.
[tense music continues.]
When he died, less than one percent of the cases in LA county, that are eligible for death, we go for death.
And so we had to decide is this a death penalty case on both the boyfriend and the mom? The committee felt that the harm to Gabriel was just so horrific, it warranted the death penalty.
They killed him.
And we felt we could prove that, and it would get us to where we needed to be to seek justice in this case.
She didn't just take the expected step of prosecuting the mother and her boyfriend.
She also took the extraordinarily unexpected step of prosecuting the four social workers.
We believe these social workers were criminally negligent and performed their legal duties with willful disregard for Gabriel's well-being.
They should be held responsible for their actions.
[male reporter 2.]
Stephanie Rodriguez, Patricia Clement, Kevin Bom, and Gregory Merritt, were in court today for their arraignment on felony charges, child abuse, and falsifying public records, in connection with the eight-year-old's torture and death.
[tense music continues.]
These are serious felonies.
If these four workers go to prison, it would be one of the first times that that's happened in our country's history.
Why did you believe their actions rose to the level of criminality? Well, I can't talk about any pending case, but just citing to the record that's out there on the you know, on the preliminary hearing.
Their actions crossed the line.
We believe they did intentional things, that kept Gabriel in harm's way, and ultimately ended up in him dying.
[anonymous source.]
It cannot be business as usual, after the public knows what really happened to that case.
There certainly can be outcomes bad enough, and employee misconduct severe enough, that it would warrant a criminal investigation.
Will they achieve a conviction or convictions? Who knows.
I mean, that's gonna have to wait for the trial.
[soft dramatic music.]
Okay, let's make sure we know exactly where we're going.
[navigation beeps.]
Where the courthouse is situated, everything to the north of the courthouse is Lancaster, and then everything to the south of the courthouse is Palmdale.
We're going to go south, towards Palmdale, location of the apartment where Gabriel was tortured and murdered.
[dramatic music intensifies.]
Everybody, I think, who was in Antelope Valley had heard, um, about Gabriel.
I was the senior experienced prosecutor in those type of cases.
About three weeks after the case was filed, they assigned the case to me.
The location where the apartment complex is at, there is a little more issues, I think, regarding crime there than in other areas of Palmdale.
Not to say that the people there aren't good people they're all trying to, you know, raise families and make a living, uh, but I think some areas, at least, regarding statistics, can have more crime than others.
There is definitely some gang activity out here.
So DAF is a Palmdale gang, it stands for Down As Fuck.
So 13 is the number they use for, like, Mexican mafia.
MS13, DAF13, they all use that number.
It's right here, so um See? That's a memorial for Gabriel, right there.
That tree right there.
- [Brian.]
- It's usually like that all the time.
Um they call this Gabriel's tree.
A lot of people in the community know the case very well, so they put a lot of things here and they come, I know, for his birthday and for Christmas.
The apartment where Gabriel was, um tortured and murdered is right up there.
[sentimental music.]
[siren blaring.]
It was late at night past ten o'clock, [siren continues.]
Ezequiel, Gabriel's brother, was out here directing paramedics and firefighters to go up to the apartment complex.
I know paramedic Cermak was surprised that he saw a child out here at ten o'clock at night.
Um, it's not the safest area, especially late at night.
And when they went up to the apartment, they saw something they had never seen before.
All the first responders, which all of them had numerous years of experience, said when they got up to the apartment complex, they would never forget what they saw.
THE DRUNK AND THE BASTARD YOU TOOK FROM THE GRAVEYARD They were really trying to work on Gabriel, and really trying to get him stable enough to move him down the stairs, stable enough to move him into an ambulance, and stable enough to get him to the hospital.
[sirens blaring.]
On the second search warrant, we had a criminalist come, a DNA analyst.
She brings, you know, a fresh roll of red stickers to mark the areas, where they located blood, or what could have been blood, in and around the apartment.
[dramatic music.]
And there was so much blood in the apartment, she ran out of red stickers and had to actually use yellow.
The only people living in the house adult-wise were Isauro Aguirre and Pearl Fernandez.
It's still hard to believe two people did all those horrible things to him for eight months.
[dramatic music.]
At the foot of the bed, was this kind of cupboard, and they kept him in that cupboard almost every night and sometimes even during the day.
Think how hard it would be for someone to breathe like that.
Or to sleep.
Or to even you know, look through the kind of little area that they were the kids were able to sneak him some food.
And you know, see that there was people in that room, but they weren't doing anything to help get him out of there.
Eight months is a long time.
A long time.
Uh, it just it's hard.
It's hard to be here.
Um There was evil in this apartment.
We all wanna believe that nobody would intentionally do that to a child.
People want to know why did it happen.
There must be some reason.
Did the system fail him here? What I think is that, um let's let the trial the social worker trial go, and then I'll answer your question.
I can say this, I'm part of the system too, so I have an obligation not only in this case, but every case, to do my part.
To make sure that everybody that I come in contact with gets justice.
Let's make sure the people who are responsible for this are held responsible for it.
[sentimental music.]
There is just something about Gabriel and what happened here, that resonates with people.
[sentimental music continues.]
Let me see clearly Let me believe Fascination Expect to walk and talk Me It was the point, the point It was the point, the point I can't see beyond the boy Everything, everything Let me feel you [music ends.]
Major trials in Los Angeles County happen on the ninth floor.
OJ Simpson trial was on the ninth floor.
We the jury in the above and title action find the defendant Orenthal James Simpson not guilty of the crime of murder.
[crowds chanting indistinctly.]
The trial of the doctor who worked with Michael Jackson was on the ninth floor.
Spector was on the ninth floor.
[female reporter.]
We are bringing you the trial of media mogul Phil Spector on trial for the murder of Lana Clarkson.
Grim Sleeper was on the ninth floor.
None of the cases that I listed, to me, are more important than the Gabriel case.
We're finally here, and there's gonna be a trial.
The court determined that we would do Isauro Aguirre's trial first.
Then we'd have an intellectual disability hearing for Pearl Fernandez, which would take about a week, and then we'll do Pearl Fernandez's trial second.
Once those three things are done, then they're going to go to the social workers case.
[tense music.]
Coming into the case a case that a child, you know, according to the evidence, was tortured and murdered, so yeah, it's um it's an important case, and a lot of it rests on the shoulders of the prosecutor.
Scott Yang and I have done some cases together, so we're familiar with each other.
I've been a DA for ten years, I've known him for eight.
Hey, Scott, you wanna grab your stuff, and, uh All death penalty cases, at least in Los Angeles County, we like to have two prosecutors.
So I asked if I can have Scott Yang as my co-counsel.
You don't hear about that many child abuse cases, where we're seeking the death penalty.
It's rare.
It's my first death-penalty trial.
That took me aback a little bit.
Um, that's intimidating.
The goal you set out for the team is you wanted to make sure that Gabriel's story was told.
That the truth came out.
You wanted to make sure that each of the photographs, each of the witnesses, um, who came to testify, was going to tell a little part of Gabriel's story.
As I found out more in terms of the way that he was killed, and the days in which he had to suffer prior to his death, it hit me very hard as a father.
We both had an extreme emotional stake in this.
What I have now is the first interview.
Um, I believe this was after the cut, and the transcript is there.
This is the first one with Eliott? [Eliott.]
You've been here for a long time, and I'm sorry, you know, you've been here for as long as you have.
Um [Scott.]
Eliott Uribe was the initial investigating officer, the first one to see Gabriel while he was still at the hospital, and he was the one who took the initial statement, from some of the witnesses.
I don't know if I had a really good understanding of all the injuries that happened to Gabriel, and we didn't know everything until after a lot of the interviews, because from those interviews, we started learning more about the evidence.
In my job, I deal with two kinds of people [dramatic music.]
I deal with monsters, and you can turn on the TV and watch and see, and then we deal with people who make mistakes.
Okay? Last night, for some reason, Gabriel did something to upset you.
To upset me? [Eliott.]
What happened last night in your bedroom? [Isauro.]
My bedroom? I spanked him.
What did he do? [Isauro.]
He just fell went onto the floor and he started saying, "Ow.
" [Eliott.]
No, what did he do to upset you? The kids were saying something about he has a problem with lying.
Yeah, he told my wife, my fiancée, "You know what? Why why you with him, if he's always, uh, hurting you? You know, if you leave, if you leave him, I'll I'll start being good.
" So I got mad.
I was like, "Why don't you why don't you why don't you say this in front of me? Why every time I leave the room or leave to the store, you always say this bad things to your mom, and your mom's over there crying, telling me you know, what this is what he told me right now.
" So I spanked him.
I was like, "Why are you saying this?" He's like, "Oh, I didn't say that.
" And my wife, my fiancée was there and she said, "You told me that five minutes ago.
" He's like, "No, I didn't tell you that.
I didn't say it like that, Mom.
" [Scott.]
Isauro Aguirre was Pearl Fernandez's boyfriend.
The evidence that we have shows that she met him about a year-and-a-half, two years prior to Gabriel's death.
He was a security guard.
He was basically the muscle behind the relationship.
He was the person who, I believe, Pearl Fernandez had do most of her dirty deeds.
I cannot make sense as to why two individuals would do this.
The doctors have told us what happened, okay? And what you're telling me, it doesn't match up.
And you know that.
You live in the real world.
You've worked security.
Did any any of you, either of you, her or you, hit him with something? [Isauro.]
I've never seen her hit him with something, anything.
Just her fist or her hand, too.
So you hit him in the front of the face, the back of the face, the side of the head.
You hit him everywhere.
Not not the face.
Yeah, just on the sides of the head then.
Sides of the head and back.
And then the body, front and back.
How did that feel when that happened? [Isauro.]
Afterwards, seeing him crying a lot, I just went that's when I told you I had [Eliott.]
You had to walk out.
But when you saw him crying, you got that one little instant of "Maybe he'll learn.
" - [Eliott.]
- [Isauro.]
- Then you start feeling bad, right? - Yeah.
[dramatic music continues.]
[dramatic music intensifies.]
[female reporter.]
Such a sad story, guys.
A jury has already been selected.
It consists of seven women and five men, as opening statements are expected to begin today in this case [male reporter.]
The prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Aguirre and also Gabriel's mother [female reporter 2.]
I'm told this trial is expected to last eight weeks, and then it will have to be repeated all over again for Gabriel's mother, Pearl Fernandez, and the same goes for those DCFS social workers [male reporter 2.]
Live in downtown Los Angeles, Logan Byrnes, Fox 11 News.
I think figure people out and societies by how they treat children, the elderly and animals.
They're the most vulnerable groups in our society.
Um, they need the most support.
And you know, how do you treat them? Okay.
This is all about Gabriel.
[dramatic music.]
It's about getting 12 citizens of the communities to see the viciousness of this crime.
We wanted the person who sat on the other side of the courtroom to understand the gravity of his offense, and to receive the justice for what he had done to Gabriel.
[dramatic music continues.]
[anonymous source.]
Right now, everybody's eyes are on this trial.
You know, Gabriel's mother and the boyfriend, I mean, look, these are these are horrific acts, you know, the media is understandably obsessed with the depth of these guys' just utter depravity.
But, this case is so much deeper.
The sheriffs were called to his house, just days before Gabriel died.
What's their role? So many could have intervened, but they chose not to.
Why not? I've never seen LA County shaken like this.
Gabriel was an eight-year-old boy, but his death exposed something rotten.
How deep does it go? What we needed was a shock to the system.
And this is it.
[dramatic music.]

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