A week after a 10-year-old Lancaster boy died following what family called a suspicious fall, the boy's mother and her boyfriend were charged with murder and torture Friday, authorities said.
Heather Barron was arrested on suspicion of murder and torture Friday,
according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Los Angeles
County District Attorney's Office said. The arrest came a day after
32-year-old Kareem Leiva was booked into jail. Leiva, was arrested on
Wednesday, but had been taken to a hospital after suffering
self-inflicted cuts to his throat.
Barron was being held on $2 million bail, as was Leiva, according to inmate records.
Family of Anthony Avalos wore shirts bearing his likeness, as if the boy
were floating in heaven, outside the Los Angeles County Superior Court
Antelope Valley Branch.
"We want to keep the focus on Anthony," David Barron, brother of the boy's mother, said.
Barron was facing an additional charge of child abuse, while Leiva was
facing another count of assault on a child resulting in death. Barron
appeared in court Friday afternoon to be arraigned, but it was postponed
until Monday, when she and Leiva would make their pleas. In her first
court appearance, she shook her head and appeared to be on the verge of
If convicted, Barron faces 22 years to life in prison. Leiva faces 32
years to life in prison. The judge issued a protective order for
Barron's other children.
Avalos died Thursday morning after paramedics responded to his family's
apartment. He had reportedly suffered a fall, and when paramedics
arrived, he was unresponsive. He died the next day in the hospital.
After he died, authorities were calling the incident and his death
Prosecutors allege that Avalos was tortured by his mother and her boyfriend in the days leading up to his death.
Anthony's death led the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to call
for a comprehensive review of why the Lancaster boy wasn't removed from
his family home despite multiple reports of abuse to the Department of
Children and Family Services. Eight children who either lived at the
home or were associated with the family were removed and placed into
DCFS custody, according to Sheriff Jim McDonnell.