Hatami characterized the child as “happy and healthy” before moving from his grandparents’ home to live with his mother and her boyfriend, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. The couple told police that Gabriel “liked to hit himself, he was gay and he wanted to kill himself,” Hatami said.
“This wasn’t about drugs. This wasn’t about mental health issues,” Hatami said. Aguirre abused the child “because he didn’t like him … he believed Gabriel was gay and to him that was a bad thing … he did it out of hatred of a little boy.”
“Gabriel’s last vision was [of Aguirre] standing over [him], beating him to death,” Hatami said. “The evidence will show that the defendant is nothing more than a bully. He was a security guard who intentionally tortured and abused a helpless and innocent little boy.”
Aguirre’s defense attorneys admit that he tortured Gabriel, but insisted the boy’s death was accidental.
Aguirre “through his actions committed the crime of murder, but ... in his mind he never intended to kill Gabriel,” defense attorney John Alan said in his opening statement.
The trial’s first witness, paramedic James Cermak testified that he first saw the boy when his partner carried his “limp, lifeless body” from a bedroom at the Palmdale house.
As the paramedics sought to revive the child, “we just started noting all the trauma on his body,” Cermak said. The abuse included “strangulation marks around his neck … bite marks, bruises head to toe,” he said.
Four Los Angeles County social workers who were assigned to the boy’s case face charges of child abuse and falsifying public records stemming from his death.