Lancaster abuse case: New allegations make Anthony Avalos' mother, her boyfriend eligible for death penalty

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Thursday, October 4, 2018
Lancaster abuse case: Couple eligible for death penalty
A mother and her boyfriend pleaded not guilty in the death of 10-year-old Lancaster boy Anthony Avalos. The two are eligible for the death penalty.

LANCASTER, Calif. (KABC) -- New allegations were added against a mother and her boyfriend accused of murdering her 10-year-old son in Lancaster, making the couple eligible for the death penalty.

The new special circumstance allegations against Heather Barron and her boyfriend Kareem Leiva states the murder of Anthony Avalos was intentional and involved the infliction of torture.

MORE: Lancaster boy's death may have been motivated by homophobia, officials say

The two were charged in June with one count of murder and torture. On Wednesday, they were also additionally charged with one count of child abuse for allegedly beating Anthony's younger brother.

Barron and Leiva appeared in court Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to the amended charges. The two are slated to return to court on Nov. 27 for a preliminary hearing, and were being held without bail in the interim.

"They might get the death penalty, but that's not going to bring Anthony back," said the boy's aunt, Maria Barron, outside the hearing Wednesday. "It's never going to give me closure. There's always going to be this emptiness in my heart."

MORE: Lancaster boy allegedly tortured, abused for at least 5 days before death

Prosecutors say 10-year-old Anthony Avalos of Lancaster suffered at least five days of sustained torture before his death on June 21, according to new court papers.

On June 20, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies responded to a home in the 1100 block of East Avenue K, where Anthony was found unresponsive. The boy was transported to a hospital, where he died the next day.

Barron and Leiva are accused of torturing Anthony in the days leading up to his death. In addition, authorities said Anthony's sexuality may have been a motivating factor in his death.

If convicted as charged, the two face a possible maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole or death. A decision will be made at a later date on whether to seek the death penalty, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said in a press release.