Pearl Fernandez, 29, and 32-year-old Isauro Aguirre are charged with one count each of capital murder in the beating death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez. They are being held without bail.
Defense attorneys requested a continuance to Oct. 7 to review subpoenaed documents.
According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the boy was tortured by Aguirre, suffering a broken skull and ribs as well as cigarette burns, abrasions on his ankles and bruises all over his body. He was transported to a local hospital, where he died on May 24.
The child’s mother is accused of doing nothing to stop the beating. Investigators said she has admitted to being in the apartment at the time.
The victim’s grandfather was present in court Tuesday, but said that he had not spoken to his daughter since her arrest in May.
“I don’t feel that I’m in that position yet,” said Robert Fernandez. “Because we’re still grieving really. I just; I feel bad.”
Gabriel Fernandez’s grandparents say 62 instances of abuse were reported against his mother and her boyfriend this year, but nothing was done by authorities.
“She’s to blame,” said Fernandez of his daughter. “Her and her boyfriend are the ones that failed. And the system failed too.”
The victim’s grandparents have hired an attorney to explore legal action following the 8-year-old’s death.
Governmental claims are expected to be served against the county, DCFS, the LA County Sheriff’s Department and the Palmdale school district.
“They have an opportunity to accept or reject the claim,” said the family’s attorney, John Nolan. “And at that point, the lawsuit can then be filed.”
Four DCFS employees are facing termination proceedings for their role in the handling of Gabriel Fernandez’s case. In June, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) released a 121-page file of prior referrals and autopsy reports that revealed a broad pattern of abuse.
The District Attorney’s Office has not said if the death penalty will be pursued in the case. A committee will be tasked with that decision at a later date.