A suspected MS-13 gang member set to go on trial next week for the horrific 2018 murder of his California girlfriend’s 10-year-old son is from El Salvador and living in the U.S. illegally.
Court records show that Kareem Ernesto Leiva, 37, and his American girlfriend Heather Maxine Barron, 33, are charged with murder and torture in the death of her son, Anthony Avalos, and child abuse against two other children in the home.
Prosecutors say the boy was beaten, starved, forced to kneel on rice, force-fed, whipped, and more in a home that caused “extreme physical pain and suffering.” California seeks the death penalty in Anthony Avalos’s torture death.
El Salvadoran illegal immigrant Kareem Leiva is accused of torturing and killing 10-year-old California boy Anthony Avalos, right?
Court documents allege that Leiva shanked another inmate and committed domestic violence against women in 2010 and 2013.
His brother, Mauricio Leiva, was indicted in 2016 for racketeering deadly drug ring. Leiva and Barron’s Los Angeles murder trial begins next week. Jonathan Hatami and Saeed Teymouri are assigned to the case.
Dan Chambers, Leiva’s defense attorney, didn’t immediately respond. Barron and Leiva were accused of whipping and hanging the child. He was tortured “for almost two weeks, up until paramedics responded to [the] residence and found Anthony’s lifeless body,” court documents say. Anthony and his siblings were burned with curling irons and locked in their rooms. Barron called 911 to report her son’s unconsciousness on June 20, 2018, weeks after Anthony’s fourth-grade school year ended.
Police found the boy unresponsive and bruised. His stomach had circular burns. Doctors described him as “severely malnourished and dehydrated” after his hospitalization.
Heather Maxine Barron, indicted for torturing and killing her 10-year-old son Anthony Avalos in Lancaster, attends a pretrial hearing in Los Angeles Criminal Court on February 27, 2018.
He died the next morning. Anthony’s blunt-force head trauma caused subdural, subarachnoid, and intraparenchymal cerebral haemorrhages, which the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner ruled a homicide.
Court documents allege he was held up by his feet and dropped on his head repeatedly, punished with wrestling moves, forced to fight other children in the house, thrown into furniture, beaten in the face with a ping-pong paddle, slammed to the floor, and given rug burn.
Authorities said Anthony could not walk or eat the day before the 911 call. Leiva and Barron allegedly knocked him out for hours.
Kareem Ernesto Leiva at a February 27, 2018, Los Angeles Criminal Court pre-trial hearing. Leiva and his girlfriend Heather Maxine Barron were indicted for murdering and torturing her 10-year-old son Anthony Avalos in Lancaster.
Prosecutors say Leiva repeatedly slammed Anthony’s head that evening. “Barron called police the next morning. Leiva fled with his children before police arrived.”
Court filings showed years of child abuse reports to authorities. Before Barron started dating Leiva, a male acquaintance was accused of sexually assaulting her 5-year-old son.
Numerous prior child abuse allegations were “inconclusive” after many interactions with county child services.
Kareem Leiva, left, Heather Barron, right Kareem Leiva and Heather Barron booking photos.
Barron kept custody of her seven children, three of whom were with Leiva, who fathered five more with three other women. He allegedly admitted to shoving Anthony’s younger brother so hard into a chair that he needed three staples to close his scalp.
In October, FOX Los Angeles reported that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a $32 million settlement with Anthony’s family, which sued social workers for mishandling the accusations. Barron’s trial witnesses include the boy’s father and maternal aunts and uncles.
Barron and Leiva appear in court behind glass.
Heather Barron and their boyfriend Kareem Ernesto Leiva appeared in Lancaster court on Aug. 3, 2018, charged with torturing and murdering Barron’s 10-year-old son, Anthony Avalos.
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