LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A Lancaster woman charged along with her boyfriend with the torture and murder of her 10-year-old son inflicted some of the same type of punishment on her children that had been used against her by her mother and stepfather years earlier, the defendant's brother and sister testified Thursday.
Heather Barron, and her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, are accused of killing 10-year-old Anthony Avalos in 2018 after years of horrific abuse. Barron and Leiva have pleaded not guilty to torturing and murdering Anthony. They are also charged with two counts of child abuse involving two of the boy's half-siblings.
In a courtroom Thursday, Barron's brother and sister took the stand and described the abuse they and Barron suffered as children at the hands of their own mother and stepfather.
David Barron and Crystal Diuguid told Superior Court Judge Sam Ohta -- who is hearing the non-jury trial of Heather Barron and Kareem Leiva - that they warned their sister against inflicting the same kind of punishment they had faced as children.
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The pair testified that they subsequently repeatedly notified the county Department of Children and Family Services about the alleged abuse of Anthony Avalos and three of his half-siblings.
David Barron said he told DCFS during one of the calls that he believed one of the children would be dead in five years if they were left in the home. He said it wound up being only about three years before Anthony died.
David Barron said he tried to protect Anthony and his younger siblings after learning of the abuse, but DCFS returned the four children to Heather in 2015. David never saw his nephew again.
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Barron, 33, and Leiva, 37, could now face a maximum of life in prison without the possibility of parole if they are convicted as charged.
Testimony is set to resume Monday, with three of the boy's half siblings expected to be called to the stand later next week.
City News Service contributed to this report.