Mother of Anthony Avalos and Her Former Boyfriend Found Guilty of Murder and Torture of 10-Year-Old

Heather Barron, and her former boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, were found guilty of one count each of murder and torture involving Anthony Avalos' June 21, 2018 death

Anthony Avalos
Anthony Avalos. Photo: Maria Barron/Facebook

Content warning: This article contains disturbing descriptions of violence.

The mother of Anthony Avalos and her former boyfriend have been found guilty of the 10-year-old's 2018 murder and torture.

Nearly six weeks after the trial began, Heather Barron, 33, and her former boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, 37, were found guilty of one count each of murder and torture involving Anthony's June 21, 2018 death in Lancaster, Calif., according to FOX 11 and a livestream video the outlet shared of the judge — Superior Court Judge Sam Ohta — reading the verdict.

Closing arguments wrapped on Feb. 22, ABC 7 reported. Both Barron and Leiva waived their right to a jury trial.

During the trial, Anthony's sister, Destiny, and his brother, Rafael, testified about the alleged abuse from Leiva, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Rafael said one of his punishments would be holding weights in the air for long periods of time while Destiny said the children were forced to fight each other, according to the Los Angeles Times. She also testified that when she was forced to fight Anthony, he would let her win so she could avoid further punishment from Leiva.

Anthony's fourth grade teacher also testified during the trial, saying Anthony was, "everyone's best friend" and "always happy and a joy to be around," ABC 7 reports.

She read aloud a handwritten letter Anthony gave her just two weeks before his murder, ABC 7 reports, which read: "I just want to stay with you forever, but I can't. I just hope you have a good rest of your life, because you already know that I'm going to have a good life."

A former classmate and friend of Anthony's — a now 14-year-old girl named Sofia — also took the stand on Wednesday to testify about Anthony, saying the boy was "always hungry," the outlet reports.

Anthony would be 14 years old today and in the 9th grade.

On June 20, 2018, Barron called 911 to report that Anthony was hurt after being injured in a fall, according to the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. But prosecutors said all of his injuries came from weeks and years of abuse at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend.

According to earlier reporting by PEOPLE, authorities came to learn that over the final five or six days of his young life, Anthony suffered a disturbing amount of abuse, including having hot sauce poured on his face and mouth, being made to kneel on rice for long periods of time, being whipped with a belt on his body, legs, buttocks and the bottom of his feet and being repeatedly held upside-down and dropped on his head.

According to the prosecution filing in 2018, Leiva was also accused of lifting Anthony and slamming him on the floor, then kicking him in the stomach.

After Anthony's death, a review of DCFS's contact with Anthony and his family was conducted by the Office of Child Protection. It was discovered that the agency had 13 contacts with them from February 2013 to November 2016, per earlier reporting by PEOPLE.

Among those who reported possible abuse or neglect were law enforcement, relatives, school employees, therapists and others.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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