Heather Barron, 33, and her 37-year-old former boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, were convicted of one count each of murder and torture. Their charges are a result of their involvement in the death of Heather’s 10-year-old son, Anthony Avalos. The child’s murder took place in Lancaster, California.
The verdict was delivered by Superior Court Judge Sam Ohta nearly six weeks after the trial began. On June 20, 2018, Barron reported Anthony had been injured in a fall. However, prosecutors said he had been abused by his mother and her boyfriend.
During the trial, Anthony’s siblings testified about the alleged abuse from Leiva. Destiny said the children were forced to fight each other as a punishment, while Rafael said he held weights in the air for long periods of time. Additionally, Destiny testified that Anthony would let her win when she was forced to fight Anthony so that she wouldn’t be punished further.
In the final five to six days of Anthony’s life, he suffered a disturbing amount of abuse. Some of his painful injuries were a result of having hot sauce poured on his face and mouth, being forced to kneel on rice for a long period of time, being whipped with a belt, and being dropped upside down repeatedly.
In 2018, Leiva was also accused of lifting Anthony, slamming him on the floor, and violently kicking him in the stomach.
The Office of Child Protection reviewed the Department of Children and Family Services’ contact with Anthony and his family following Anthony’s death. Between February 2013 and November 2016, the agency had 13 contacts with them. There were many individuals who reported possible abuse or neglect, including law enforcement, relatives, teachers, therapists, and others.
Barron and Leiva are expected to be sentenced in April.