A California mother was sentenced Thursday to life without the possibility of parole for the torturous killing of her 8-year-old son, who she believed was gay.
Pearl Fernandez, 34, and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre, 37, were both convicted of the 2013 fatal beating of Fernandez's son, Gabriel, reported KABC-TV.
Aguirre was sentenced to death.
Before reading the sentencing, Judge George G. Lomeli said couple’s "conduct was horrendous, inhumane and nothing short of evil."
"You want to say that the conduct was animalistic, but that would be wrong because even animals know how to take care of their young, some to the extent that they would sacrifice their own lives in caring for their young," Lomeli said directly to Fernandez and Aguirre in the court room.
Last December, a jury recommended Aguirre be sentenced to death after convicting him of first-degree murder and the special circumstance allegation of murder involving torture.
In February, Fernandez pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and admitted to the torture special circumstance allegation in exchange for a life prison term without the possibility of parole. She was also facing a possible death sentence.
At her sentencing hearing, Fernandez read an apology:
"I want to say I'm sorry for what happened. I wish Gabriel was alive. Every day I wish that I'd made better choices. I'm sorry to my children, and I want them to know that I love them," she said.
In May 2013, Gabriel stopped breathing and was taken to a hospital after suffering abuse.
According to medical officials, Gabriel was routinely beaten, shot with a BB gun, fed cat feces and forced to sleep while gagged and bound inside a small cabinet, which prosecutors displayed in court.
Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami, argued that Aguirre repeatedly abused and tortured Gabriel because he thought the boy was gay, reportedly KTLA.
Hatami argued that Aguirre and Fernandez worked to keep their treatment of Gabriel hidden by using makeup to cover up his bruises.
One of Gabriel's teachers said that she feels guilty for not doing more to prevent his death.
"I go back and forth between sadness and guilt and anger, and no matter what, I can't bring him back," Summerwind Elementary School teacher Jennifer Garcia told KTLA.
While Garcia said she did report signs of abuse to Child Protective Services, she felt nothing was being done when the child was kept in his mother’s care.