Netflix's New True Crime Looks Like Its Most Harrowing To Date
*This article contains content that some readers may find upsetting.*
A new Netflix true crime, telling the harrowing story of an eight-year-old boy's murder and the child protection systems that let him down, landed on the streaming service today - and people are already in tears watching it.
Six-part docuseries The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez tells the story of Gabriel Fernandez, 8, who was found unconscious when paramedics arrived at his home in Palmdale, California, on 22nd May 2013 after a call from his mother that there had been an incident.
When he was taken to hospital, doctors discovered the boy's skull had been fractured in two places, he had three ribs broken, his teeth were knocked out with a bat, and his lungs and groin were severely injured by BB gun pellets.
Gabriel was pronounced brain dead that day and was taken off life support two days later.
His death was the result of a long and sustained campaign of abuse inflicted on him by his mother, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre. And despite numerous investigations by social workers, and reports of his injuries, Gabriel was allowed to remain at home where the abuse continued.
During Fernandez and Aguirre's trials, courts heard how the little boy was forced to eat cat faeces and his own vomit and was forced to sleep in a small cupboard with his feet bound and mouth gagged.
The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez not only tells the harrowing story of the boy's murder, but the demand for accountability that exploded in its wake.
Los Angeles County district attorneys put the state on trial for his death, too, seeking not to just prosecute the parents, but four former county Department of Children and Family Services employees for mishandling Gabriel's case.
In 2016, prosecutors argued the four workers minimised "the significance of the physical, mental and emotional injuries that Gabriel suffered ... [and] allowed a vulnerable boy to remain at home and continue to be abused."
"This case is going to be very emotional so if any point you find yourself getting a little overwhelmed, please step out of the courtroom," was the warning the court security officer gave to the gallery at the beginning of Gabriel Fernandez's trial, as we hear in the trailer.
And it's a warning that viewers of the doc would do well to heed, too, as people are already finding the documentary a tough watch.
"Not even 10 minutes into The Trials Of Gabriel Fernandez & I'm already crying," wrote one viewer.
"Currently 16 mins into watching 'The Trials Of Gabriel Fernandez' and I'm already crying and feeling all the emotions just like I felt when I first heard about Gabriel Fernandez," said another.
"Not even 5 mins into The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez and I'm sobbing... my heart aches for you sweet angel," wrote a third.
The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez is available to stream on Netflix now.
Featured Image Credit: Netflix