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California mother of 10-year-old boy who died after saying he liked boys could face death penalty

The couple were charged with one count of murder and torture in June

2018-10-04

The mother and her boyfriend of the 10-year-old boy who said he ‘liked boys’ who died could face the death penalty.

Heather Barron, 28, was arrested and charged with the murder, torture and one count of child abuse against her son Anthony Avalos, who died in hospital last in June after suffering a head trauma at his home in Los Angeles.

Barron's boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, was also arrested after making statements and now faces the same charges in relation to Avalos' death. 

According to LA County, Barron and Leiva have been accused of torturing the child in the days leading up to his death.

The torture included body-slammed, forced to kneel on rice, pouring hot sauce on the child’s face, starving and whipping him with a belt.

After new allegations of torture, Barron and Leiva could face the death penalty according to ABC 7.

The couple were charged with one count of murder and torture in June but this week, they were also charged with one count of child abuse for allegedly beating his younger brother.

Anthony’s younger brother was hit so hard he required staples to close a head wound, the New York Times reported.

The couple have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and are being held on bail until a preliminary hearing on November 27.

Anthony’s aunt Maria Barron told reporters outside the courtroom: “They might get the death penalty, but that’s not going to bring Anthony back.

“It’s never going to give me closure. There’s always going to be this emptiness in my heart.”

Previous reports say Anthony’s eight siblings were forced to take part in some of the abuse and were told to fight with him and keep watch “so he would remain standing or kneeling”.

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami wrote in an indictment: “At one point Anthony could not walk, was unconscious lying on his bedroom floor for hours, was not provided medical attention, and could not eat on his own.”

Barron had initially claimed that Avalos' injuries were due to a fall, but the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) called it "implausible" due to the severity of his wounds. 

The LA Times reported that social workers and police were told that Avalos had been abused for years before his death and reports claim that the 10-year-old had been locked in a cage and forced to fight other children.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County DCFS had been receiving complaints about the child's treatment since 2013. Many of the complaints claimed that Avalos was being physically, emotionally and sexually abused.