One of the two men who helped raise Gabriel Fernandez before he was tortured and murdered at age 8 by his mother and her boyfriend has died from the novel coronavirus.
David Martinez died Tuesday morning from COVID-19 in El Salvador, Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami told Oxygen.com on Friday. Hatami prosecuted Gabriel’s mother Pearl Fernandez and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre.
Both Hatami and Martinez were subjects of Netflix’s recent docuseries "The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez,” which chronicled Gabriel’s tragic life. He was killed in 2013 after suffering months of abuse.
While it sometimes seemed like Gabriel had never experienced love — Pearl and Aguirre regularly beat him and put cigarettes out on him — there was a time in his life when he was truly cared for. Three days after he was born, Pearl sent him to live with her uncle, Michael Lemos Carranza, and his partner, David Martinez.
"He stayed with us for four years," Martinez said in the docuseries. During that time, he maintained that the child was adored.
“He was my baby," Martinez said. "I had never known pain before, until he passed away. I will love him until I die."
Hatami echoed that sentiment.
“David loved Gabriel very much,” he told Oxygen.com.
Carranza died about a year after Gabriel's death, according to "Gabriel's Justice,” a Facebook page that Carranza and family set up following the child’s death. The post did not disclose how he died. Following Carranza’s death, Martinez was deported by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) back to his native El Salvador, Newsweek reported earlier this year. He noted in the docuseries that he hadn’t lived there in 38 years and that he was scared to move back.
“He should have been allowed to stay in the U.S. Very, very unfair,” Hatami told Oxygen.com.
Martinez’s funeral was held in El Salvador on Thursday, the same day that the case against four social workers accused of negligence regarding Gabriel Fernandez was thrown out by a California judge.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for Oxygen Insider for all the best true crime content.