Remembering Gabriel Fernandez

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Approximately 5 children die every day as a result of abuse. How many stories get untold or swept under the rug? How could a mother hurt her son so much that his body gave up? Gabriel Fernandez was a happy 8 year old kid who had the whole world ahead of him in the months leading up to his departure from this Earth. Born in 2005, he was like any other kid in elementary school: playing, learning, and socializing. If he were still alive today, he would be in his senior year of high school. However, on May 22, 2013, a call was made reporting that Gabriel was unresponsive. His stepdad, Isaurro Aguire, made the call, saying that he had just found Gabriel not breathing after he was fighting with his sibling. When the paramedics arrived, they were shaken by the home situation, but their job was to keep the victim alive. He was found with a bruised body, cuts, burns, broken ribs, and a deformed skull. His skull was so brutally damaged that one of the nurses described it as a “rice crispy treat.” 

Family Scapegoat Syndrome is when one member of the family, specifically a child is the chosen one to be blamed for the families’ misfortunes or shame. Gabriel had to endure this pain and guilt before the months that led to his atrocious death. His mother, Pearl Fernanadez, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. His stepfather, Isauro Aguirre, was sentenced to death, but is still waiting for his execution date. Was this punishment justified, or should they have been punished more severely? In California, Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered a moratorium on the death penalty. There hasn’t been an execution in California since 2006, because it has been found unlawful.

Is the death penalty justified?

This is a very morally conflicting question. Who gets to decide whether someone lives or dies? The three main reasons why the death penalty exists are retribution, deterrence, and incapacitation. What does this mean? It is a way to punish someone for the crime that they have committed. It also shows how the government will react and how they won’t let crimes that are committed go unpunished. It uses the concept of fear to create some sense of authority. Some may say that just ending someone’s life is an easy way out, and would rather have them rot. 

“Let the punishment fit the crime.” 

“An eye for an eye.” 

How do people who commit unspeakable crimes get to carry on with their lives? Prison doesn’t really do any good; it’s a never ending cycle of people getting arrested, doing their time, and getting out again. And it just continues. The only real way to put an end to this type of behavior is to get rid of the perpetrator. Still, this punishment should be given only when necessary, like in this case of a helpless child dying at the hands of someone they thought loved them. It’s pretty scary to see how people just move on and let things continue to happen. California is its own state. We have the ability to persuade the government to carry out executions for those who deserve it.

In my opinion, Pearl and Isauro’s punishment doesn’t compare to what Gabriel had to endure. He suffered what no human should have to live through in a lifetime. His mother was the instigator in the torture, even though her partner in crime assisted and did most of the dirty work. But Gabriel was her flesh and blood and she still displayed no remorse, and no compassion for what she did. Although he died at the hands of Aguirre,  his mom was the one person that was supposed to love him unconditionally. He never gave up on her, and that’s one of the saddest parts of his story. 

Rest in peace Gabriel Fernandez.

Shade Torres is a senior at Washington High School. She was born in Oakland and raised in Fremont since elementary school. This is her first year at the Hatchet. Shade’s interests include criminology, cooking, reading, and listening to music. In her free time, she spends time with friends and family and likes going on walks. Her future goals consist of going to college and transferring to a UC. She plans to become an FBI Agent and then transfer to the Behavioral Analysis Unit in Quantico, VA.

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