LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Palmdale couple charged with capital murder in the beating death of the woman’s 8-year-old son will face the death penalty, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, 31, and Isauro Aguirre, 35, were indicted last summer for the May 2013 killing of her son, Gabriel Fernandez, whose death prompted intense scrutiny and investigation into the county’s child welfare system.
The murder count includes the special circumstance allegation of murder involving the infliction of torture.
Aguirre was present, but Fernandez was not in court as Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami announced that the District Attorney’s Office is “going to seek the death penalty as to both defendants in this case.”
Fernandez and Aguirre are both scheduled to return to court July 14 for a pretrial hearing.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: Gabriel Fernandez
The two – who are being held without bail – were initially charged in May 2013 with the boy’s killing. Prosecutors took the case to the grand jury last year to avoid continued delays in the case, Hatami said last year.
Fernandez and Aguirre are accused of inflicting multiple injuries on the boy, who suffered a fractured skull, several broken ribs and was burned.
Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel were sent on May 22, 2013, to a home in the 200 block of East Avenue Q-10 in response to a call that the boy was not breathing. He was declared brain-dead that day, but not taken off life support until two days later.
In July 2014, the boy’s father, three siblings and paternal grandparents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county departments of Children and Family Services and Public Social Services, the Sheriff’s Department and the Palmdale School District. Fernandez and Aguirre were also named as defendants.
The lawsuit alleged that the siblings, like Gabriel, were “compelled” by county officials to live with Fernandez and Aguirre and were also “physically and emotionally abused” by the couple.
Family members, neighbors, teachers and others made more than 60 abuse reports to the proper county authorities, according to the lawsuit.
County authorities previously said two social workers and two supervisors were ordered fired in the wake of the boy’s death.
(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)