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Anthony Avalos murder: Mom, boyfriend get life without parole in child killing

The mother of a 10-year-old California boy who was tortured for weeks and killed will spend the rest of her life in prison – and so will her accomplice boyfriend.

Heather Maxine Barron, 33, and her boyfriend Kareem Ernesto Leiva, 37, were convicted of murder and torture in March after a jarring trial in which prosecutors revealed evidence of a crime they called “nothing short of monstrous.”

Both were sentenced to life without parole this week for the death of her son, Anthony Avalos, according to prosecutors.

Anthony’s 13-year-old sister, delivering a victim impact statement, recalled her brother as “a ball of sunshine to everyone.”


Anthony Avalos was smiles in old portrait

This undated photo provided by David Barron shows Anthony Avalos. (David Barron via AP)

“Sadly, because of you two monsters, he is not here anymore,” she said. Neither Anthony, their other siblings nor she herself deserved any of the abuse their mother and her boyfriend doled out, she added.

“I would have never thought in a million years that I wouldn’t want to call my own mother mom,” she added. “To me, you are both monsters, and Heather, you are not my mother nor family.”

Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami, one of two prosecutors on the case, told Fox News Digital that he did not consider the sentences a “win.”

“I am, however, blessed that I got to stand up and be Anthony’s voice one last time,” he said.


Mother and boyfriend in jail jumpsuits during court appearance, Inset: Anthony Avalos smiles in family photo

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images | Inset: David Barron via AP)

More than a dozen relatives delivered victim impact statements or had them read by Deputy District Attorney Saeed Teymouri in court – and so did two first responders who arrived to find Anthony suffering at his mother’s home on June 20, 2018.

“I may not have known Anthony personally, but I have never stopped thinking about him,” said Diane Ravago, the EMT who responded to Barron’s 911 call and arrived to find Anthony unconscious and his mother without a tear in her eye. “In fact, I’ve completely enveloped myself in him and feel hurt and care just like mostly everyone here today.”


Anthony avalos in brown shirt

Anthony Avalos, 10, was killed by his mother and her boyfriend. (Facebook)

Ravago said she thinks about him every year when she sees June 20 on the calendar, every time she passes the cemetery and every time she hears the name “Anthony.”

On that day, just weeks after the end of Anthony’s fourth-grade school year, Barron called 911 to report her son was unconscious, according to the documents. 

Prosecutors said the boy had been beaten, starved and tortured to the point of “extreme physical pain and suffering.” He was covered in bruises and abrasions and had cigarette burns on his stomach.

Anthony Avalos smiles in a tie and vest

Anthony Avalos, 10, was tortured and murdered, according to prosecutors. (Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

Ravago testified that he didn’t even seem alive when she reached the scene. At the hospital, doctors noted that he appeared “severely malnourished and dehydrated,” and he died the following morning.

“I’ve always hated hearing, ‘Well, now he doesn’t have to suffer anymore,'” Ravago said. “No. He should have never suffered in the first place. He should have never experienced that pain, and death should not have been what finally ended it.”

Leiva is a reputed MS-13 gang member and illegal immigrant who allegedly shanked another inmate while awaiting trial, according to court documents, and was accused of domestic violence against females in both 2010 and 2013 but remained in the country.

Verdict in the Anthony Avalos case in Los Angeles, CA.

Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami speaks with the media after Heather Maxine Barron and Kareem Ernesto Leiva were convicted of murdering 10-year-old Anthony Avalos at the Criminal Justice Center on March 7, 2023, in Los Angeles. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Hatami said prosecutors had “100% evidence” against Barron and Leiva and lamented that he was blocked from seeking the death penalty.

“I had the Anthony case for five years. The last two were extremely difficult because I had to fight with the elected DA to try to make sure I was able to get justice for Anthony,” Hatami told Fox News Digital. “The DA unilaterally removed capital punishment and even ordered me to remove the Torture/Murder special circumstance. The latter, I refused. If I didn’t, these two killers would have been eligible for parole at 50 years old.”

The former Los Angeles district attorney, Jackie Lacey, had intended to seek the death penalty in the case, but current DA George Gascón, who has publicly opposed such punishment for years, reversed course after taking office. Hatami is among several candidates running to unseat the far-left Gascon from within his own party.

Heather Maxine Barron in prison jumpsuit with hair in braids

Heather Maxine Barron, who was indicted for the murder and torture of her 10-year-old son, Anthony Avalos, walks into court for a pretrial hearing on Feb. 27, 2018, at Los Angeles Criminal Court. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

As a result, the life sentences were expected.

“The fact that you monsters get to keep your life after brutally taking one and negatively affecting so many others, that you get to breathe, eat, laugh and live somewhat of a life remains the most unfair,” Ravago told the couple after Judge Sam Ohta handed down the sentences.


“I’m truly grateful for the judge,” Hatami said. “He listened to the evidence and the family members. Something to this day George Gascón refused to do.”

FOX Los Angeles reported in October that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a $32 million settlement with the rest of Anthony’s family, who sued alleging that county social workers failed to properly handle reports of abuse in the home.

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