On May 24, 2013, Gabriel Fernandez died in a Palmdale hospital.
After years of abuse and neglect that included being beaten, shot by a BB gun, forced to eat cat litter, and locked in a cabinet in his mother's room, the 8-year-old boy's terrible life had come to an end.
Five years later, Gabriel's mom, Pearl Fernandez, and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, were put on trial for his death.
In the end, Pearl pleaded guilty to first-degree murder with the special circumstance of intentional murder by torture. Isauro was found guilty of the same crime. Pearl was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole while Isauro was sentenced to death.
Brian Knappenberger started following Gabriel's story and documenting it all when the trial began in 2018.
In the Netflix documentary "The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez," the award-winning documentarian walks viewers through the entire story, starting with Gabriel's home life, his final trip to the hospital, the trial, and every aspect of his story.
"The documentary is a really difficult watch but it’s an important one. We made the decision that Gabriel’s voice needed to be heard, and in order to tell that story we had to be as honest and as straightforward as we possibly could. I think that in the end, this is a story of a kind of redemption, or a questioning of how things can be better in this system and that has motivated us to tell the story."
“There’s no question parts of it are very, very intense. But, I think by following the case, the trials, how it was resolved, will help people learn how we can make the system better — which is really the heart of the piece."
You can read more about Netflix's "The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez" at Entertainment Weekly