First responders of 10-year-old Anthony Avalos said they found a gaunt child with sunken eyes who looked dead. They testified on Monday during a murder trial against the child’s mother and her gang member boyfriend. The respondents further said that the child looked to be allegedly tortured and abused for weeks before his death.
Prosecutors said the boy had been allegedly beaten, starved, forced to kneel on rice, whipped, force-fed, and reportedly subjected to “extreme physical pain and suffering.” His mother called 911 on June 20, 2018, to report the child was unconscious, as reported by FOX Los Angeles.
Respondents found the child to be unresponsive and covered with bruises and abrasions. There are also circular burn scars on his stomach.
Diane Ravago, former EMT now a paramedic, testified on Monday that Barron allegedly appeared “kind of calm” when they arrived. She said the child, “looked like a cancer patient” and did not appear alive.
The doctors remarked the child was “severely malnourished and dehydrated” when he was taken to the hospital. The child was pronounced dead by the following day.
Heather Maxine Barron, 33, is identified as the child’s mother and her boyfriend Kareem Ernesto Leiva, 37, an illegal immigrant and MS-13 member. Both were charged with torture and murder for Anthony’s death. They are also charged with child abuse against two other children in the home.
Barron has denied the charges and told the sheriff’s detectives, “He has been throwing himself… He has been throwing himself around.” She said that the boy had been acting up and threw himself on the floor because “he didn’t want to eat.”, as reported by ABC7.
However, several of the child’s relatives – two of whom testified last week – said they had notified the county’s Department of Children and Family Services regarding the alleged abuse. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has formally approved a $32 million settlement lawsuit filed last October 2022 by the child’s relatives. The lawsuit claimed that various social workers improperly handled reports of abuse against Anthony and his siblings.
Meanwhile, Barron and Leiva remain in jail without bail. If found guilty of the murder counts and the exceptional circumstances enhancements for torture, they could be sentenced to maximum life imprisonment without parole.