Lancaster community remembers Anthony Avalos on what would've been his 13th birthday

LANCASTER, Calif. (KABC) -- Family and community members gathered on Saturday to celebrate Anthony Avalos, the Lancaster boy who was murdered, on what would've been his 13th birthday.

Loved ones shared memories of him, describing Anthony as a sweet boy who loved to give hugs and always had a smile on his face.

The 10-year-old boy died in June of 2018 after being found unresponsive. Prosecutors say he suffered horrific abuse in the last few days of his life. His mother, 31-year-old Heather Barron and her boyfriend, 35-year-old Kareem Leiva, are charged with murder and torture.

Anthony's relatives focused on the life of the child who meant a lot to them.

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An emotional viewing, memorial and funeral service took place Friday for Anthony Avalos, the 10-year-old boy who was allegedly tortured and murdered by his mother and her boyfriend.

"He wasn't my nephew, he was more of a son, like my wife said. He lived with us, we raised him, we taught him how to walk, talk, potty train. We were mom and dad to him, we weren't uncle and aunt. Now we have to live everyday without him," said David Barron.

His birthday comes just days after the office of District Attorney George Gascón dropped the death penalty against Anthony's mother and her boyfriend, saying "it is never an appropriate resolution in any case."

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DA George Gascón's office has ordered the death penalty off the table in the trial of a Lancaster couple accused of torturing and murdering 10-year-old Anthony Avalos.

In California, there is no death penalty at the moment, but many are unhappy with the decision. Anthony's family blames his murder on systemic failures of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.

"I just don't understand his policies. I'm all for reform but not when it comes to taking a child's life. It wasn't an accident. They tortured him for years," said Anthony's aunt, Maria Barron.

The two now face a maximum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of the charges.

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