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Mom, Boyfriend Charged With Murder, Torture In Death Of Boy, 10

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/ AP) — Los Angeles County prosecutors have charged a mother and her boyfriend with murder and torture in the death of the woman's 10-year-old son.

The district attorney's office says Heather Maxine Barron and Kareem Ernesto Leiva were each charged Friday with one count of murder and torture.

Barron was arraigned Friday and faces an additional count of child abuse.

Leiva faces another charge of assault on a child causing death. He was not in court Friday because he suffered a self-inflicted wound to his upper body.

Leiva was taken into custody Wednesday, but at that time the boy's mother was not arrested.

"We know her day will come when it's her time," said Barron's own brother David. "Anthony's gonna get justice for all, not just himself, but for all kids."

But that justice will come too late for little Anthony Barron, who died last week after being found unresponsive June 20 at home in Lancaster, in the high desert Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles.

Authorities said Barron called 911 to report her son had fallen down stairs. Avalos died the following day.

Shortly following Avalos' death, DCFS Director Bobby Cagle told City News Service that he was told Anthony said "he liked boys and girls", but that the context of the boy's comment was not entirely clear.

Anthony Avalos
Anthony Avalos, 10, was sent to the hospital with serious injuries. He later died.

Earlier this week, Sheriff's Capt. Christopher Bergner said that a possible anti-gay sentiment on the part of either Lieva or Barron "has not come up in our investigation as a motivation at this time."

"Anthony, you will always be in our hearts," the boy's aunt Maria Barron said tearfully into the mics outside the Lancaster offices of DCFS. She reported her suspicions of abuse to the county in the past.

"I was heartbroken that I didn't do more for him," Barron told CBS2 News earlier this week.

People held up signs calling out the department for not doing more to keep the child safe.

"Rest assured, my sweet baby boy, that you will always be loved, never forgotten," said Barron.

The attorney representing the family said he had seen proof of what the boy endured.

"Abused, tortured, starved," said Brian Claypool. "He had deep bruising behind the back of his eyes!"

"We know of at least 16 reports to the L.A. County Dept. of Children and Family Services," Claypool continued.

The family plans a civil lawsuit against the county and said it wants DCFS, the L.A. County Sheriff and the county medical examiner to release all the records relating to Anthony and his six siblings.

DCFS Executive Director Bobby Cagle released a statement which read, in part,

"While we cannot comment on an ongoing investigation, we are committed to cooperating with our law enforcement partners. I reiterate my deep commitment to seeing justice being done on behalf of this innocent child."

Bail for Barron and Leiva has been set at $2 million, and they are due in court again Monday.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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