A jury recommended the death penalty for a Palmdale man who was convicted of torturing and killing his girlfriend’s 8-year-old-son, Gabriel Fernandez.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury convicted Isauro Aguirre of first-degree murder in November, for the death of his girlfriend’s 8-year-old son. The jury found that 37-year-old Aguirre intentionally tortured Gabriel and that the child had suffered repeated abuse at his hands.

According to the Los Angeles Times, paramedics arrived at the boy’s Palmdale, California, home on May 22, 2013, to find him unconscious and with a cracked skull, broken ribs, bruised skin, missing teeth and BB pellets lodged in his groin. He died two days later after he was taken off life support.

Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami told jurors in the closing arguments during Aguirre’s trial last month that he forced Fernandez to eat cat feces and his own vomit in the days leading to the boy’s death.

He was also locked in a small cabinet with his mouth gagged and his hands and legs tied. The prosecutor said that Aguirre hated the boy because he suspected he was gay.

Fernandez, Hatami said, was punched with excessive force which led to skin missing from his chin and nose.

"No human with a heart and soul could do that to an innocent little boy," Hatami said.

However, one of Aguirre’s attorneys, John Alan stated "the death penalty is not required for even the most heinous crime" and that jurors needed to make "a personal, moral decision," the Epoch Times stated.

He added that Aguirre’s co-workers vouched and testified for him saying he showed "compassion, empathy, gentleness, kindness, respectfulness and patience" in dealing with the elderly at a facility in Woodland Hills, where he was reported to have worked.

"I don’t think we’ll ever truly understand how that person …gentle, kind, patient, respectful … came to commit this horrific crime," Alan continued.

He added: "I believe that the answer, at least in part, lies where Isauro’s life intersected with Pearl’s." He claimed that Gabriel’s mother Pearl Fernandez was "violent, abusive and neglected her children even before she met Isauro. Even her own family considered her a danger to her children."

Another of Aguirre’s attorneys, Deputy Public Defender Michael Sklar, said even though his client "was completely out of control," he did not tried to kill the boy. Sklar said Aguirre was guilty of second-degree murder and not a higher charge because he had acted in a burst of rage.

"It's just really sad," one juror told ABC affiliate KABC-TV. "It's a heartbreaking story. You just never think something like that can even happen. The things I heard — it's just unimaginable."

A jury forewoman read the recommendation aloud from a public statement written by the panel, after deliberating for seven hours over three days.

"We were plucked out of our everyday lives and brought together to serve," she said. "We came together to bring justice for Gabriel."

Aguirre is scheduled to be sentenced on March 8, 2018.