Viewers tuning into Netflix‘s The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez are horrified to hear how mom Pearl Fernandez treated her son. While the true-crime docuseries breaks down exactly what happened to the 8-year-old boy, viewers also want to know what happened to his mom after his death. Appropriately enough, she’s set to spend the rest of her life in a prison in Chowchilla, California.
Pearl, 36, was arrested for her role in the abuse of her son on May 23, 2013. She was initially brought into custody on charges of felony child endangerment and child abuse. After Gabriel passed away in the hospital following an abusive episode perpetrated by his mother and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, the charges against her were changed to murder with the special circumstance of torture.
“A 29-year-old mother and her 32-year-old boyfriend were charged today with one count each of capital murder following the fatal beating of the woman’s 8-year-old son, who died Friday,” read a statement the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office shared with The Antelope Valley Times on May 28, 2013. “Prosecutors will decide at a later date whether to seek the death penalty for each defendant.”
It seemed that the prosecutors were leaning towards asking the judge for a possible sentence of capital punishment if Pearl was found guilty. Instead of going through a trial, however, the mom agreed to a plea deal. Per The Los Angeles Times, on February 15, 2018, she pled guilty to first-degree murder, admitting that the “killing of her son Gabriel was intentional and involved the infliction of torture.” On June 7, 2018, the judge sentenced her to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
According to the L.A. Times, the judge called the mother’s actions “horrendous, inhumane and nothing short of evil.” In addition to the sentence he handed down, he also wished that the parent would face some karmic retribution from her conscience. “I hope you think about the pain you caused this child and that it tortures you,” he told her. “I rarely say that.”
In 2020, Pearl is still serving her sentence in Chowchilla State Women’s Prison. She was admitted to the prison, the United States’ largest facility for female inmates, on June 21, 2018.
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