A California mother and her boyfriend have been charged with the murder of a 10-year-old boy, allegedly for being gay.
Investigators said late last month that Heather Barron, 28, and her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, 32, likely beat Heather’s son Anthony Avalos to death after he said he ‘liked boys’.
A press release from the LA County District Attorney’s Office revealed the charges.
Authorities charged Barron with one count of murder, torture, and an additional count of child abuse. Leiva, meanwhile, faces charges of murder, torture, and one count of assault on a child causing death.
The pair appeared at the Antelope Valley branch of the Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday (2 July). Their arraignments have been postponed until 3 August.
Both are being held on a $2 million bail. If they’re found guilty, Barron faces a maximum sentence of 22 years to life in prison, while Leiva faces 32 years to life in prison.
Years of abuse
Barron called 911 after Avalos was unresponsive on 21 June. She claimed it was from a fall.
Teachers and family members warned authorities of abuse numerous times before Avalos’ death.
Further, the director of the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services said there was evidence of Avalos ‘being a victim of physical abuse, including signs of being severely beaten, as well as malnourishment’.
Investigators reportedly said homophobia has not yet come up as a motive.
A similar case in Palmdale
Recently, another mother and her boyfriend in Palmdale, California were sentenced for torturing an eight-year-old boy to death.
Eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez suffered douses of pepper spray, being forced to eat his own feces and vomit, putting cigarettes out on his skin and beating him with a bat.