Reviewing Netflix’s newest murder documentary

Joe Parsley, Website & Video Managing Editor


Right from the beginning when the 911 call is played, you know something isn’t right.

“The Trial of Gabriel Fernandez” is the newest Netflix Original documentary and consists of 6 episodes, which means it’s an unusually long series. 

Gabriel Fernandez was an 8 year old boy who was known to many as one of the happiest kids they knew. But for his mother, Pearl Fernandez, and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, he was the “scapegoat” for everything that was going bad in their lives.

After bouncing from his uncle’s house to his grandparent’s house to his mother’s house, it was stated he was abused for roughly all 6 months he lived with his mother and Aguirre in a variety of different ways until he was murdered on May 24, 2013.

The mother and boyfriend were both arrested for his muder.

After giving background information, the documentary crew follows the lead prosecutor Jonathan Hatami, who works for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, as he collects evidence and witnesses to testify in the trials.

Yes. Trials plural because Hatami not only tried Pearl and Isauro, but also tried 4 social workers, who were investigating the Fernandez household, for falsifying public records and child endangerment which resulted in death. The case was eventually thrown out but it brought attention to the flaws of the child protective services of the county.

For Aguirre and Pearl, they were both tried for first degree murder with the special circumstance of intentional murder by torture. If found guilty, both would be eligible for the death penalty.

Aguirre’s trial, which was the first to occur, was the most emotional and time-consuming one because the evidence; pictures and personal testimonies of Gabriel’s wounds. Pearl’s trial followed his.

My initial instinct is to say this documentary was terrible just because of the abuse Gabriel went through before his death, but that’s an opinion on the situation.

All-in-all, I believe this documentary was the best one they’ve produced yet, but there was one thing in the series that seemed really forced; showing that new technology is helping “prevent” child abuse. I know they are trying to show they are attempting to change the system, but again, it seemed forced.

This documentary was also very emotional especially when they showed Gabriel’s body after death. Child abuse is absolutely terrible and needs to be recognized and prevented.