Prosecutors have announced their intention to seek the death penalty against a mother and her boyfriend who are accused of killing her 10-year-old boy.
The Los Angeles County District Attoney’s Office announced the plan on Wednesday- despite California’s governor Gavin Newsom putting an official moratorium on capital punishment back in March.
Heather Maxine Barron, 29, and her boyfriend, Kareem Ernesto Leiva, 33, are accused of torturing her son Anthony Avalos, 10, to death in June 2018.
Investigators claim Avalos was a victim of severe child abuse, and that he was horrifically tortured – particularly in the days before he died.
Avalos was found unresponsive in the family’s home in Lancaster on June 20 after his mother called 911 to say he had fallen down the stairs.
He was placed on life support, but eventually passed away the following day.
Homicide detectives quickly deemed Avalos’ death suspicious as there were signs he had been severely beaten and was malnourished.
Prosecutors have announced their intention to seek the death penalty against a mother and her boyfriend accused of killing her 10-year-old boy
Investigators claim Anthony Avalos was a victim of severe child abuse, and that he was horrifically tortured – particularly in the days before he died
An examination of his body found bruises, abrasions and cigarette burns on his skin.
A coroner’s report indicated that there was blunt force trauma to his head and his brain and also multiple blunt force trauma to his body. There were additional injuries to his hips, arms, and feet.
During a hearing last December, in which a grand jury decided to indict Barron and Leiva on capital murder charges, prosecutors claimed the couple would beat Avalos with belts, a vacuum hose and a vacuum cord.
They would allegedly slap him in the face, slam his head into the floor, make him fight with his siblings, and pour hot sauce on his face.
When they weren’t actively abusing Avalos, prosecutors say Barron and Leiva would lock the boy in his room for days without food or water.
Prosecutors allege Barron and Leiva would beat Avalos with belts, a vacuum hose and a vacuum cord
Avalos was found unresponsive in the family’s home on June 20 after his mother called 911 claiming he had fallen down the stairs. The boy was taken off life support the following day and a coroner’s report revealed the extensive injuries found all over his body
Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Hatami stated at the time: ‘The evidence will clearly show that Leiva and Barron are ultimately responsible for the torture and eventual murder of Anthony,’ the prosecutor said at the end of his opening statement.
‘The evidence will show that Barron, who’s Anthony’s biological mother, and Leiva, who’s six feet one inch, 200 pounds, brutally, brutally tortured and intentionally murdered 10-year-old Anthony.’
Investigators assert that Avalos suffered particularly severe torture in the five or six days before his death because he had told his mother and her boyfriend that he was gay.
Authorities say child protective services had received at least 16 calls from community members concerned that Barron and Leiva were abusing Anthony and the other two children
It emerged after the boy’s death that child protective services had received at least 16 calls alleging that Barron and Leiva were abusing Avalos and their other two children.
School administrators and family members, as well as a teacher and a counselor, had all called in to voice their concerns.
They reported that Avalos and his two siblings were allegedly being sexually abused, beaten, forced to fight one another and made to eat from the trash.
The callers also reported that the children were being denied food and water and were forced to crouch for hours.
During a press conference on Tuesday, the devastated aunt of Avalos revealed that she blamed the Los Angeles County of Department of Child and Family Services (LA DCFS) for the death.
‘If DCFS would’ve done their job when we called and told them what was going on, we wouldn’t be here today,’ she sobbed.
Earlier this month, Avalos’ father and other family members filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against DCFS.