Phew. I am not sure how to describe this.
#TheTrialsofGabrielHernandez is a 6 part Netflix series that chronicles the abuse, torture and eventual death of an 8-year-old California boy, Gabriel Fernandez, at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend in 2013. The series chronicles the 8 months before his death and follows the trial of his mom, Pearl Fernandez and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre who were charged with his murder.
I will take the time out to preface this and warn you reader that this is not an easy watch. What was done to Gabriel was horrific and it was detailed in the series. There are pictures of his body all battered. Pictures of the crime scene and vivid descriptions. So watch at your own risk.
The abuse meted out on Gabriel included cigarette burns, punches, choking,he had missing teeth, he was starved and forced to eat kitty litter. He was locked in a box everyday handcuffed with a sock in his mouth and a bandanna over his face. Please remember he was 8.
I didn’t want to watch this because I practice self care by being selective on traumatic content.but I really felt I owed it to children like Gabriel who are being abused and to attempt to try and understand how this happened despite numerous attempts and complaints to Child Protective Services.
The other thing the documentary covers is how much of a failed system we have. It is so broken that despite going to the home,Gabriel was never removed from his home. The DA charged 4 social workers and I absolutely agreed with that move.
The most frustrating thing about the doc is that we never get to know why Pearl and Isauro did this to this little boy. Gabriel had two older siblings who never went through any of this so why was he singled out? The speculation is that they thought he was gay?
Anyways, I can’t say that I recommend this because it is a tough watch but this documentary reminds you of the evil in the world and also how our system is so broken that everytime it seems like corporations are always chosen to be protected over the innocent.
In a controversial take, a little part of me is glad that Gabriel died and found peace over being alive and feeling unloved, scared and confused every day of his life for 8 months. Noone deserves that. I have always wondered about the foster care system and why there is a high rate of abuse. The doc did touch on how Pearl suffered abuse also but honestly, it’s still no excuse for what she did to her son but it does highlight the systematic abuse that goes on, so why is there no outlet for protection? I hope this doc plays a part in helping the system turn around and take more accountability.
The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez is streaming on Netflix.