A Californian man has been charged with torturing and killing his girlfriend’s eight-year-old son because he thought the child was gay.

Isauro Aguirre allegedly tortured the boy, Gabriel Fernandez, over a period of months before his death in 2013, the New York Daily News has reported.

Prosecutors have alleged that Aguirre began beating his girlfriend’s son after they began living together.

“[Aguirre] did it because he didn’t like him… he believed Gabriel was gay and to him that was a bad thing… he did it out of hatred of a little boy,” said deputy district attorney Jonathan Hatami on Monday.

The couple reportedly called emergency services after the boy died, telling police that he “liked to hit himself, he was gay and he wanted to kill himself”.

A paramedic testified in court to an “unbelievable amount of trauma on his body”.

Aguirre is accused of beating and burning the child over a period of months.

“After eight months of living with the defendant… his body was battered,” said deputy district attorney Hatami.

Aguirre’s lawyer claimed that while his client caused the injuries, he didn’t intend to kill the child.

“He is guilty of murder, but the special circumstances alleged, that he intended to kill Gabriel with the infliction of torture, is not true,” said lawyer John Allan.

Aguirre may face the death penalty over the charges.

His girlfriend Pearl Fernandez is also facing charges over the death of her son.

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