When 10-year-old Anthony Avalos told his mother that he “liked boys,” his mother and her boyfriend tortured him to death. Now they’re facing the death penalty for their crime.
When the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department responded to a 911 call at his home, they were told by his mother Heather Barron that the child had “suffered injuries from a fall.” Avalos was unresponsive and taken to the hospital, where he died a day later.
He had severe head injuries and cigarette burns on his body, and his mother and her boyfriend Kareem Leiva had been reported numerous times for child abuse.
California Department of Children and Family Services Director Bobby Cagle said that the reports included accusations that Anthony and his siblings were denied food and water, sexually abused, beaten, dangled upside-down from a staircase, forced to crouch for hours, locked in a small room without a bathroom, forced to fight, and told to eat from the trash.
Barron and Leiva are also both charged with one count of torture and child abuse; the child abuse charge includes other victims. The mother is also charged with a second count of child abuse. Leiva faces a count of assault on a child causing death.
Since both are facing murder charges that include the infliction of torture before death, they are both eligible for the death penalty. They will return to court in late November. Prosecutors haven’t decided yet whether or not to seek the ultimate punishment for their horrific crimes.