Anthony Avalos looked malnourished, covered in bruises after 2018 call to Lancaster home, EMT says

ByLisa Bartley KABC logo
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Anthony Avalos looked malnourished and bruised, EMT testifies in trial
Ten-year-old Anthony Avalos looked dead when authorities were called to his Lancaster home in 2018, but his mother didn't appear to be very upset, witnesses testified in the murder trial.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Firefighters and an EMT-paramedic described, through tears at times, what they witnessed on the day they responded to the Lancaster home of 10-year-old Anthony Avalos.

WARNING: This article contains graphic descriptions of child abuse which may be disturbing to some.

"He looked dead," retired L.A. County firefighter Ronald Watts said after taking a deep breath and beginning to sob.

"His eyes were sunken, you could count his ribs, his knees had sores on them, he just looked dead," he said.

Anthony, who'd graduated from fourth grade two weeks before, was lying on the living room floor. He was not breathing, had no pulse and was so emaciated, some of the first responders thought he must be a cancer patient.

RELATED: Anthony Avalos case: Siblings of defendant testify she abused her kids

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.

Anthony's mother, Heather Barron, and her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, are standing trial for the June 2018 alleged murder and torture of Anthony - along with the abuse of Anthony's two younger siblings. Barron and Leiva have pleaded not guilty.

Firefighter Neal Eggers took the witness stand next to describe some of the injuries he could see on Anthony - bruises that ranged in color from purple and yellow to green. The different colors of bruises indicated to him that Anthony's injuries occurred over a period of time.

Eggers described Anthony as so malnourished and dehydrated, they could not find a vein to start an IV.

"His veins were probably collapsed," Eggers testified. Instead, paramedics had to drill a needle into Anthony's shin bone to administer fluids and medication directly into his bone marrow.

"In your 35 years as a firefighter, have you ever seen a child in this condition?" asked Deputy District Attorney Saeed Teymouri.

"I have not," Eggers replied.

"Was it traumatic for you," Teymouri asked.

"Yes," Eggers said.

RELATED: Prosecutors outline disturbing allegations of abuse in Anthony Avalos murder trial

In gruesome detail, prosecutors spelled out allegations of torture and child abuse they say led to the death of Anthony Avalos. WARNING: This video contains graphic descriptions of child abuse which may be disturbing to some.

Earlier on Monday, EMT-paramedic Diane Ravago described the injuries she witnessed as one of the first responders to the scene, including what she believed to be cigarette burns on Anthony's torso.

"Malnourished, thin - like a zombie," Ravago said of Anthony's appearance. "Abrasions, scabs, bruising front to back, head to toe."

Photographs of Anthony's tiny, battered body flashed on the screen throughout Monday's testimony. At least 10 members of Anthony's extended family sat through court despite a warning from Deputy D.A. Teymouri that graphic photos would be part of the proceedings.

Ravago says Anthony's mother, Heather Barron did not cry, did not scream and did not appear to be concerned as first responders did CPR, trying to bring Anthony back to life. She also testified to hearing Barron give two different "stories" about how Anthony was injured.

"The cause I heard her state was that she said he hit his head the day before while playing basketball," Ravago told the judge. "At a different moment, she stated that he threw a tantrum and threw his head back."

"This one was the worst of my entire career," Ravago recounted of Anthony's injuries.

Another firefighter on scene that day testified that Barron "just didn't seem very upset."

"I recall her saying 'Come on Anthony, come on Anthony,'" firefighter Sean Kinsner recounted.

"Did her statement appear to be genuine?" asked Teymouri.

"No," Kinsner replied.

On cross examination, Kinsner was asked by Leiva's defense attorney Daniel Nardoni about another firefighter's he witnessed looking at Anthony's scalp for injuries and finding none.

Testimony resumes Tuesday morning with several deputies and detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department expected to take the witness stand.