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Criminal Justice

Anthony Avalos' Mother And Her Boyfriend Sentenced To Life Without Parole In Torture And Murder Of 10-Year-Old

A small boy with medium-tone skin holds a pencil at a classroom table.
Anthony Avalos, 10, died Thursday, June 21, 2018 a day after after authorities found him unconscious at his Lancaster home. (Photo via Facebook)
(Photo via Facebook)
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The convicted murderers of 10-year-old Anthony Avalos were sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without possibility of parole.

About the conviction

Heather Barron, the boy's mother, and Kareem Leiva, her boyfriend, were convicted last month in a non-jury trial of abusing and torturing Anthony in 2018 and then lying to authorities about what led to his death.

On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Sam Ohta — who convicted the couple — handed down the sentence after emotional testimony from Anthony's friends and family.

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L.A.'s Department of Children and Family Services faced criticism after his death when it came to light that multiple social workers failed to properly report the repeated abuse.

A $32M settlement

In October, the department settled a lawsuit brought by members of the boy's family for $32 million.

"We hope that Anthony’s family and loved ones find a small measure of peace and closure in the resolution of this tragic case," the department said in a statement when the settlement was announced. "Our department has taken significant steps to mitigate the risk of harm to children and improve our capacity to serve the families in the Antelope Valley region. We remain resolute in our commitment to ensure that reform continues."

What happened today

Anthony's family and friends gave more than two hours of emotional statements, calling the defendants "monsters" for repeatedly assaulting and abusing an innocent child.

The backstory

On June 20, 2018, authorities were called to a Lancaster apartment where Anthony was found unconscious.

As we reported at the time:
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Barron told authorities he fell and hit his head. He died the next day.

The Los Angeles Times reported that concerned teachers and relatives had lodged 13 calls with the county Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), alleging abuse of Avalos and his six siblings at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend. The callers described instances where the children were beaten, denied food and water, locked in small spaces without bathroom access and sexually abused, among other allegations.

Avalos had been on the agency's radar, but action was never taken to remove the boy or his siblings from the home.

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