Kim Baldonado, Sue Monroe
Family, friends and strangers gathered in Sylmar Wednesday night for an emotional farewell to 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez. The boy's mother and her boyfriend allegedly admitted to fatally torturing him, authorities say. Kim Baldonado reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on June 12, 2013.
As family and friends prepared to attend a memorial service for 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez on Wednesday evening, the Department of Child and Family Services released documents that reveal how the boy's beating death could have been avoided.
When paramedics responded to the boy's Palmdale home on May 22, they found he had suffered severe trauma, including a fractured skull, three broken ribs, two teeth knocked out, burns to his skin and BB pellets embedded in his lung.
Fernandez was found unresponsive. He died in the hospital two days later.
The boy's mother, Pearl Hernandez, and her boyfriend, 32-year-old Isauro Aguirre, admitted to beating him to death, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies. They were both charged with his murder.
After repeated requests to the DCFS, NBC4 obtained files that show just how Fernandez’s death could have been avoided.
Eight separate investigations into possible abuse were opened for the family starting in 2003. They ranged from alleged physical abuse and neglect to sexual abuse. Some allegations were determined to be "unfounded" after DCFS examined them.
At least one recent report gave an overall risk rating as "very high."
Since Fernandez's death, his two older siblings, who were the subject of some of the referrals to DCFS, have been placed into foster care.
The latest report recounts the day Fernandez died. It states that Fernandez was shot in the chest and groin with a BB gun and that Aguirre admitted to punching the boy 10 times that day and scrubbing the boy's face and neck to the point it tore skin.
DCFS documents provide possible insight into how Fernandez died, saying the boy had a deviated septum -- possibly from being punched in the face -- and that he had lacerations to his liver.
The boy's family is expected to make a statement before the memorial service, which was set for 6 p.m. at Church of the Foothills in Sylmar.
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