A 10-year-old boy in California was subjected to the worst kinds of torture till he died, that included being slammed on the ground, beaten with a belt on the feet as well hot sauce being poured on his face. Prosecutors are seeking a death penalty for the boy's mother, Heather Barron, 29, and her boyfriend Kareem Leiva, 32, from Lancaster who subjected Anthony Avalos to the inhumane treatment. The two have pleaded not guilty to all criminal charges as well as a newly added special-circumstance allegation of murder involving the infliction of torture.
Prosecutors told the jury that Avalos was regularly whipped and beaten before his ultimate death on June 21. In fact, investigators said there were 88 claims of abuse since 2013 of which fifteen of the claims were substantiated, the lawyer representing Avalos relatives' said. Two of these also involve claims of sexual abuse. Just around a week before Avalos lost consciousness and died on June 21, his mother and Leiva put the boy through some horrible torture.
This included pouring hot sauce on the boy’s face, lashing the bottom of his feet with a belt and forcing him to kneel on rice and repeatedly stated a motion filed by Jonathan Hatami, the Deputy District Attorney. Some other tortures he was subject to were dangling him upside down and dropping him on his head and giving hum rug burns. They would also regularly switch between withholding food for long periods and force-feeding him, according to Hatami.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and DCFS took the statements of three of Avalos’s siblings who said the torture began long before he died from it and also included them. According to Hatami Leiva would regularly hit the children with a hose, forced them to squat against a wall for long periods of time. He would call this form of torture the “captain’s chair,” and would hurl dirty diapers at them reports LA Times.
According to a prosecutor, Leiva also hit Avalos' younger brother in one instance with so much force that he needed medical attention and staples to close a head wound. An additional charge of child abuse was filed against both defendants. Their lawyers claimed that both are innocent. Dan Chambers who is representing Levia said, “The first layer of defense is we have to get through the records,” while adding that there is a “mountain” of evidence in the case.
According to Barron’s brother, it does not matter whether his sister gets the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole, “As long as she doesn’t walk free.” Speaking about the DCFS and the social workers who handled Avalos’s case he said, "We want a full-blown investigation! How many more kids need to die?” His wife Maria added, “Enough is enough!” She praised prosecutors for filing the new charges while talking about how Avalos' younger brother was also affected.
“The baby had to suffer. It was all the kids,” she said. Another hearing is scheduled on November 27. Avalos' case has been compared with that of Gabriel Fernandez, an 8-year-old boy who was tortured back in 2013 in Antelope Valley. Paramedics found the boy unconscious and suffered several severe injuries such as a cracked skull, broken ribs, bruised and burned skin, missing teeth and BB pellets lodged in his groin on May 22. He died two days later. It was found he had even been forced to eat cat feces and his won vomit. In both instances, the boys were left with their tormentors despite the LA County Department of Children and Family Services receiving tips about the abuse.