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Sister testifies on behalf of Gabriel Fernandez killer

City News Service | 12/7/2017, 4:25 p.m.

One of the younger sisters of a Palmdale man convicted of the torture-murder of his girlfriend's 8-year-old son testified this week that she does not believe he's responsible for the crime.

In her second day on the stand, Elizabeth Aguirre told the downtown Los Angeles jury tasked with recommending whether Isauro Aguirre should be put to death or spend the rest of his life behind bars without the possibility of parole that she was aware that he was convicted of Gabriel Fernandez's May 2013 killing. But she said his family remains undaunted in their belief that he did not commit the crime.

The seven-woman, five-man jury found the 37-year-old former security guard guilty Nov. 15 of first-degree murder and found true the special circumstance allegation of murder involving the infliction of torture, making him eligible for capital punishment.

The boy's mother, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, 34, is awaiting trial separately in her son's killing. She could also face the death penalty if convicted.

Defense attorney Michael Sklar acknowledged during the guilt phase of the trial that Aguirre killed the boy, but said the defendant “acted in a rage of anger followed by an explosion of violence.”

Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami countered that Aguirre was an “evil” man who “liked torturing” the boy and did so systematically in the months leading up to the child's death because he thought Gabriel was gay.

When asked today by Hatami whether she believed her brother was “not responsible” for the boy's torture and murder, Elizabeth Aguirre responded through a Spanish interpreter that she believed he wasn't “because the social worker never did anything.''

“You don't believe that he murdered and tortured Gabriel?” the prosecutor asked.

“No,” she responded. “We don't believe it,” Elizabeth Aguirre said when asked if it as true that her entire family felt the same way.

She said she would believe that her brother admitted punching the boy 10 times in the face “If he tells me so.” She later told jurors that her sibling has denied torturing and murdering the boy when she has spoken to him.

She said he served as an altar boy and attended church regularly as a child, and doesn't remember her parents ever physically disciplining her brother when he was a child.

Aguirre's sister said that she still believed there was good in her brother, tearing up as she said she would feel “sad” if he was put to death at San Quentin State Prison.