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.
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 tears.
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 suspicious.
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.