Murdered Boy's Father: "I Should Have Been There."

The biological father of Gabriel Fernandez testified Tuesday that he didn’t want his son to live with the boy’s mother prior to Fernandez’s murder in 2013.

“Because Pearl never showed any type of love towards Gabriel,” Arnold Contreras told jurors.

He was called as a witness by prosecutors who are trying to convince the jury in Downtown L.A. that it should recommend a death sentence for Isauro Aguirre.

“I should have been there,” Contreras said, and told jurors he felt helpless when he was told by a jail chaplain in Riverside County that his son was to be taken off life support.

Prosecutor Jonathan Hatami asked Contreras if there was something he would have wanted to say to his son.

“I’m sorry,” Contreras said. “I’m sorry for not being there.”

Contreras was in and out of jail and prison, and said he was in and out of Fernandez’s life for many years, though he said he was comfortable that the boy’s grandparents and uncle were caring for him.

Aguirre, 37, was convicted earlier this month of the first degree murder of Gabriel Fernandez, with the special circumstance that Fernandez was tortured for months before he was beaten to death.

Aguirre was the live-in boyfriend of Fernandez’s mother, Pearl. She’ll be tried separately on identical murder and torture charges.

Jurors are hearing testimony in the penalty phase of the trial. At the conclusion they’ll be asked to recommend punishment of either death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Earlier Tuesday, the judge cautioned prosecutors to limit questions about a witness’s feelings about handling aspects of the Fernandez case, but overruled defense objections to the testimony as improper.

Defense attorneys lodged an ‘ongoing’ objection to the testimony of those who did not know Gabriel Fernandez but were being allowed to offer an opinion on how his death had affected them.

(Photo: Gabriel Fernandez in image provided by Fernandez family)

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