Mom, boyfriend get life sentences in 10-year-old boy’s death

Apr 25, 2023, 2:22 PM

FILE - Victor Avalos, right, father of Anthony Avalos, and other family member carry the casket aft...

FILE - Victor Avalos, right, father of Anthony Avalos, and other family member carry the casket after a funeral held at Saint Junipero Serra Parish in Quartz Hills, Calif., July 20, 2018. The mother of Avalos, 10 years old, and her boyfriend were each sentenced Tuesday, April 25, 2023, to life in prison for torturing and murdering the child. Heather Barron, 33, and Kareem Leiva, 37, were convicted last month of first-degree murder involving torture. They also were found guilty of child abuse of two other children in their Lancaster home. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via AP, File)

(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via AP, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The mother of a 10-year-old California boy who died after being tortured was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday, along with her boyfriend, news outlets reported.

Heather Barron, 33, and Kareem Leiva, 37, were convicted of first-degree murder involving torture last month in a nonjury trial. They also were found guilty of abusing two other children in their Lancaster home.

Superior Court Judge Sam Ohta sentenced them both to life without the possibility of parole after hearing emotional statements from the boy’s relatives and friends, ABC7 reported.

The judge called Anthony Avalos a “helpless child” dependent on his mother for his basic needs. “Instead Anthony was tortured and killed,” Ohta said.

Neither Barron nor Leiva spoke during Tuesday’s hearing, according to the TV station.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies went to Anthony’s home in response to a 911 call from Barron on June 20, 2018. They were told that he had been injured in a fall.

Anthony died in a hospital the next day. Doctors said he was severely malnourished and dehydrated.

Prosecutors alleged that the boy was intentionally killed by torture. They said that for years he was routinely beaten and whipped with a belt along with the other children, repeatedly dropped on his head, smashed into the floor or furniture, burned with cigarettes and denied water and food at times or force-fed.

Prosecutors said Leiva sprayed hot sauce in the children’s faces; forced them to fight one another, with the loser being punished by him; and made the youngsters kneel for lengthy periods on concrete floors, nails or uncooked rice or squat until they fell over.

Barron’s defense attorney argued that she was herself abused by Leiva and couldn’t stop him from hurting the children.

Last year, Los Angeles County agreed to pay $32 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the boy’s father and three siblings over his death. A home counseling contractor also was sued and previously reached a $3 million deal with the boy’s family.

The lawsuit alleged that the county Department of Children and Family Services disregarded 13 reports of abuse allegations involving Anthony from relatives, teachers, counselors and even law enforcement.

The agency never tried to remove the boy from the home.

In the wake of the settlement, the department said it had taken “significant steps to mitigate the risk of harm to children” and was committed to continuing reform.

National News

Associated Press

Racist message, dead raccoon left for Oregon mayor, Black city council member

REDMOND, Ore. (AP) — Someone left a dead raccoon and a sign with “intimidating language” that mentioned a Black city councilor outside the law office of an Oregon mayor, police said. Redmond Mayor Ed Fitch found the raccoon and the sign on Monday, the Redmond Police Department said in a news release. The sign mentioned […]

20 hours ago

FILE - A former iron ore processing plant near Hoyt Lakes, Minn., that would become part of a propo...

Associated Press

US Army Corps revokes permit for Minnesota mine, cites threat to downstream tribe’s water standards

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Tuesday it has revoked a crucial federal permit for the proposed NewRange Copper Nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota, a project popularly known as PolyMet, saying the permit did not comply with the water quality standards set by a sovereign downstream tribe. The Corps said in […]

20 hours ago

FILE - The North Carolina Capitol stands, July 24, 2013, in Raleigh, N.C. The promotion of certain ...

Associated Press

North Carolina legislature approves limits on politics, race discussion in state workplaces

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The promotion of certain beliefs that some North Carolina lawmakers have likened to “critical race theory” is on track to be banned in state government workplaces, under a bill that received final legislative approval on Tuesday. The two-pronged proposal that passed the GOP-controlled Senate 30-15, with three Democrats and all present […]

20 hours ago

File - The Apple Vision Pro headset is displayed in a showroom on the Apple campus after it's unvei...

Associated Press

Apple’s Vision Pro goggles unleash a mixed reality that could lead to more innovation and isolation

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) — Reporters are a skeptical bunch, so it was unusual to hear so many of them raving about their firsthand experience with Apple’s next Big Thing: the high-priced headset called Vision Pro, a device infused with totally virtual reality as well as augmented reality that projects digital images on top of real-world […]

20 hours ago

Associated Press

Attorney for man charged in 1972 Chicago-area slaying of teen wants statements suppressed

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — An attorney for a Minnesota man charged in the stabbing death of a 15-year-old suburban Chicago girl more than half a century ago wants statements he made at a police station suppressed. Attorney Terry Ekl argued in a recent defense motion that statements Barry Whelpley made to Naperville investigators at the […]

20 hours ago

Associated Press

Artist Françoise Gilot, acclaimed painter who loved and later left Picasso, is dead at 101

NEW YORK (AP) — Françoise Gilot, a prolific and acclaimed painter who produced art for well more than a half-century but was nonetheless more famous for her turbulent relationship with Pablo Picasso — and for leaving him — died Tuesday in New York City, where she had lived for decades. She was 101. Gilot’s daughter, […]

20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

Mom, boyfriend get life sentences in 10-year-old boy’s death