The world, in general, can be a very crude place, and it’s not just in the animal world that young ones become easy prey. Even in the human world, life is tough for the little ones, but mostly, they depend on their parents for love, guidance, care, and all basic needs. But what if the parents themselves turn into predators? Heartbreaking, but that’s exactly what happened to a little boy called Gabriel Fernandez, whose mother made him her prey in the worst possible way. His story is now on Netflix.
The docuseries starts with a 911 call placed by Gabriel’s mother, Pearl Hernandez, where she says her son is not breathing. What follows is a real-life courtroom drama that filmmaker Brian Knappenberger and his crew were allowed to attend by the judge, as Pearl Hernandez and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre were tried for child abuse and murder. Not only did they end up killing 8-year-old Gabriel Hernandez but they also tortured him for days on end, leaving the little boy more dead than alive for most of his sad life.
The Netflix docuseries, The Trials of Gabriel Hernandez also delves into the system of child care in the US. Many people saw poor little Gabriel Hernandez in his weakened, beaten-up state. His body was nothing but a map of bruises, and he’d be locked into a cabinet for entire nights, starved with barely enough food to eat. Family members did call the sheriff’s office many times, but Gabriel and his stories were never believed and the cops actually admonished him for lying.
In the meantime, the beatings continued, and Gabriel would be forced to eat cat litter, shot in the face with a BB gun, and even pepper-sprayed. His mother made him wear only two dresses, and would take pleasure, along with her boyfriend, in calling her son gay and subjecting him to homophobic slurs and epithets. The abuse continued for eight months till finally one night, the beating got so severe, Gabriel Hernandez died on spot. The crew was devastated during the trial and the filming, not understanding how a mother could do such horrific things to her son.
Frankly, how could anyone do this to any child? But the responsibility of the death of Gabriel Hernandez does not lie only with the mother and her boyfriend, it lies on the door of every person who knew the little boy, suspected something, but let him fall through the cracks. It’s not an easy watch, it will shake you to the very core of your being. But that’s why it should be watched, so that no other little boy, or girl, ever needs to face what Gabriel Hernandez did.