Trial to Start in Torture, Killing of Anthony Avalos – NBC Los Angeles

A trial is scheduled to begin Wednesday for a mother and her boyfriend accused of torturing and killing the woman’s 10-year-old son in Lancaster in 2018.

Opening statements are expected in the non-jury trial of Heather Maxine Barron and Kareem Ernesto Leiva. The pair face a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the death of Anthony Avalos.

Prosecutors allege that Anthony was severely tortured during the last five or six days of his life by his mother and Leiva. The alleged abuse included whipping the boy with a belt and a looped cord, pouring hot sauce on his face and mouth, holding him by his feet and dropping him on his head repeatedly, according to a prosecution court filing.

Deputies and paramedics responded to a 911 call from Anthony’s mother June 20 and found her son unresponsive inside his family’s apartment. Authorities said they were told that the child had suffered injuries from a fall, but investigators quickly classified the death as “suspicious.”

Anthony died early the next morning, authorities said.

From 2013 until his death in 2018, reports of abuse were made to the Department of Children and Family Services serves that Anthony and his six half-siblings were denied food and water, beaten, sexually abused, dangled upside-down from a staircase, forced to crouch for hours while holding heavy objects, locked in small spaces with no access to a bathroom, forced to fight each other and forced to eat from the trash, according to court papers filed by Anthony’s family in a civil lawsuit against Los Angeles County.

The lawsuit accused the county and multiple social workers of failing to properly respond to reports of abuses of the boy and his half-siblings.

The county board of supervisors last year approved a $32 million payment to settle the suit.

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