Lancaster Woman and Her Boyfriend Indicted on Capital Murder Charges

A Lancaster woman and her boyfriend accused of torturing and killing a 10-year-old boy have been charged with capital murder in the death of Anthony Avalos according to a grand jury indictment unsealed Wednesday. 

Heather Maxine Barron, 29, and her boyfriend, Kareem Ernesto Leiva, 32, are also accused of torturing 10-year-old Anthony Avalos in the days leading up to his June 21 death. They both pleaded 'Not Guilty' earlier this year. 

The two are due back in court in Lancaster on Nov. 27 for a hearing that will determine whether there is enough evidence to require the two stand trial for murder. Court records filed in June indicate that Anthony was severely tortured and beaten during the last five or six days of his life. 

Some of the alleged abuse Anthony endured included, the pair whipping the boy with a belt and looped cord, pouring hot sauce on his face and mouth, holding him by his feet and dropping him on his head repeatedly. 

Lawyer Brian Claypool told KFI's Andrew Mollenbeck that the unsealed indictment is a relief for other family members. 

"This was a very big step in the right direction for the family and the community to get justice for this little boy who was tortured and murdered," Claypool said. 

Deputies and paramedics found the 10-year-old unresponsive inside his family's apartment after receiving a 911 call from Barron. Authorities say they were told the boy had been injured by a fall, but investigators instead labeled the boy's death as "suspicious." 

In a statement released following the news conference, DCFS Director Bobby Cagle said, "As our department grieves the senseless death of Anthony Avalos, my primary focus must be on the in-depth, top-to-bottom review now underway to determine exactly what happened and what needs to happen to safeguard innocent lives going forward."


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