LOS ANGELES (KTLA) -- Justices with the California 2nd District Court of Appeal threw out the case Monday against four former social workers who faced criminal charges in the death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez.
Gabriel Fernandez died in May 2013 after months of torture and abuse, according to prosecutors. His mother, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, are expected to spend the rest of their lives in prison for his murder.
In 2016, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office charged former county Department of Children and Family Services employees Kevin Bom, Stefanie Rodriguez, Gregory Merritt and Patricia Clement with one felony count of child abuse and one felony count of falsifying public records. It marked the first time in recent memory in which child protective workers were criminally charged over the alleged mishandling of a case.
In their 2-1 decision filed Monday, the justices concluded that the workers “never had the requisite duty to control the abusers and did not have care or custody of Gabriel,” according to the opinion.
Prosecutors could hold another preliminary hearing in the case or take it to the California Supreme Court, the Los Angeles Times reports.
In 2018, Gabriel Fernandez’s mother was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Thursday, while her boyfriend was sentenced to death in the torture killing of the 8-year-old Palmdale boy.