The siblings of an eight-year-old boy who was tortured to death by his mother and her boyfriend have told a court how the pair singled him out and subjected him to sickening abuse because they thought he was gay.
Gabriel Fernandez died in 2013 after allegedly suffering eight months of abuse at the hands of his mother Pearl Fernandez and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre at their Los Angeles home.
Prosecutors say the pair put cigarettes out on his skin, beat him with a bat and shot at him with a BB gun.
On Wednesday, his teenage brother and sister wept as they testified against the pair in court.
While they admit torturing the boy, Aguirre denies murder because he claims his death was unintentional.
Fernandez's trial will begin after her boyfriend's concludes.
These were the extent of eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez's facial injuries when he was taken to hospital in May 2013 after suffering eight months of abuse. He was brain dead when he arrived and had been placed on life support in this photograph
Gabriel Fernandez, eight, died in May 2013 at the hands of his abusive mother and stepfather
On Wednesday, Gabriel's siblings told how their mother's boyfriend singled him out for beatings and made him sleep in a cabinet they referred to as a 'box', according to NBC which attended the trial in California.
Whenever social services visited, they would lock the eight-year-old away and handcuff him so they would not see his injuries, they said.
The family had been reported to authorities several times by concerned acquaintances who were worried for Gabriel's welfare but the case was overlooked.
It wasn't until May 2013, when Aguirre delivered a fatal blow which made Gabriel brain dead, that they realized how severe the case was.
Ezequiel C, Gabriel's 16-year-old brother, told how Aguirre put a sock over his brother's mouth on occasion and sometimes used a bandana to silence him.
He also said Aguirre kicked Gabriel in the face, stomach and groin and that he used a wooden hanger to beat him sometimes.
Pearl Fernandez (left in court previously) and Isuaro Aguirre (right during his trial this week) are both accused of murdering the boy
Gabriel's siblings said he was picked on by the pair because they thought he was gay. They would taunt him by forcing him to wear girl's clothes to school, they said
Gabriel was made to sleep in this cubby where he was handcuffed. Whenever social workers visited the home after receiving reports he had been beaten, he was stuffed in the cabinet and told to hide,