Couple convicted of ‘really heinous’ killing of boy through torture
A 33-year-old California mother and her 37-year-old boyfriend will likely spend the rest of their lives behind bars for brutally abusing and killing the woman’s 10-year-old son.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Sam Ohta on Tuesday found Heather Barron and Kareem Leiva guilty on one count each of first-degree first-degree murder and first-degree torture in the 2018 death of Barron’s 10-year-old son, Anthony Avalos. Ohta also corroborated a specific circumstance claim that Anthony was tortured while committing a murder.
“The brutality inflicted on this young child was unimaginable. No child should endure this kind of violence and torture at the hands of the people who love them and are meant to protect them from harm,” LA District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement following the verdict. “The actions taken by the defendants have been truly appalling and I am grateful they are being held accountable.”
The couple waived their right to a jury trial in favor of a trial. They were also convicted of two counts of child molestation for treating two of the boy’s siblings. They face a possible life sentence without parole if they appear at their sentencing hearing on April 25.
According to a press release from the DA’s office, MPs found an unresponsive Avalos at a home in Lancaster when they called 911 on June 20, 2018. He died in a hospital the next day.
The boy was severely dehydrated and had suffered extreme physical abuse in the weeks leading up to his death, officials said. Manner of death was determined to be homicide and cause of death was determined to be dehydration and blunt force injuries.
During the trial, prosecutors said Avalos was “so malnourished and dehydrated that his veins collapsed,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
Ohta lashed out at the defendants, saying they “enjoyed seeing Anthony suffer,” reported KABC-TV, an ABC Los Angeles affiliate.
“Acts of knowingly preventing Anthony from having access to fluids include each defendant keeping Anthony’s bedroom door locked for the substantial length of time required to cause the severe dehydration or when Anthony was not locked in his room. For anyone to watch them closely or prevent them from accessing liquids,” Ohta said. “Evidence presented at trial shows that both Defendants Leiva and Barron entered Anthony’s room independently at different times. This meant everyone had to lock their door when everyone went out. This was clearly a purposeful and coordinated action by both parents who met the requirement of intentional compliance.”
Barron and Leiva were accused of abusing Avalos and his siblings for years. Things got progressively worse in the summer of 2018, when the couple “tortured the boy every day for two weeks” before he died, officials said.
According to The Times, the torture reportedly included forcing the children to kneel on nails or uncooked rice for long periods of time, making them squat until they collapsed, feeding them hot sauce, depriving them of food and water, and confining them in for days to lock up in their rooms. When the children urinated or defecated in their rooms, their faces were reportedly pushed into their trash.
They also reportedly forced them to fight each other, usually with the losers being additionally beaten by Leiva.
Avalos’ siblings reportedly testified that Leiva picked him up and dropped him on his head several times before Anthony died. Barron and Leiva left him unconscious on the floor until the next day, when Barron finally called 911.
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https://lawandcrime.com/crime/mother-and-boyfriend-convicted-in-truly-revolting-torture-killing-of-10-year-old-boy/ Couple convicted of ‘really heinous’ killing of boy through torture