LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The prosecution announced Wednesday, Aug. 28, that the death penalty will be sought against a Lancaster woman and her boyfriend, who are charged with the torture-murder of her 10-year-old son.
Heather Barron, 29, and Kareem Leiva, 33, remain jailed without bail in connection with the June 21, 2018, death of her son, 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.
Earlier this month, relatives of the youngster announced a lawsuit against Los Angeles County, accusing the county and multiple social workers of failing to properly respond to reports of abuses of Anthony -- and his siblings. The Los Angeles Superior Court suit filed on behalf of Anthony’s father, aunt, uncle and six half-siblings requests damages in excess of $50 million.
Speaking to reporters, the boy's aunt, Maria Barron, tearfully repeated the family’s contention that the Department of Children and Family Services failed to protect her nephew, alleging that if social workers “would have done their jobs when we called and told them what was going on, we wouldn’t be here today.”
She said her nephew “would probably be trying out for band, starting sixth grade.”
Prosecutors filed a court document Wednesday summarizing evidence of aggravating factors in the case, including “graphic photographs, graphic videos, torture techniques, torture tools” and more. The document also includes an allegation that Heather Barron knowingly left Anthony alone with a suspected child molester, leading to the boy’s molestation in 2013.
Prosecutors also allege in the document that Barron and Leiva watched “pornographic videos in front of” the boy and one of his siblings, and also performed “sexual acts with each other” in front of the children.
They also state in the document that they will present evidence of “extensive pain and suffering, child abuse, isolation, chronic abuse and stress, torture and mental abuse of Anthony Avalos.”
According to the document, prosecutors contend Leiva is an active member of the MS-13 street gang and assaulted another jail inmate in July using a shank.