Arraignments have been postponed for a mother and her boyfriend charged with murder and torture in the death of the woman’s 10-year-old son in Lancaster.
Heather Maxine Barron, 28, and her boyfriend, Kareem Ernesto Leiva, 32, made a brief appearance in the Antelope Valley branch of the Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday. Their arraignments were continued until Aug. 3, according to a court spokesperson.
Barron has been charged with one count each of murder, torture and child abuse, according to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office. Leiva was also charged with murder, torture and one count of assault on a child causing death, a news release from the DA’s office read.
Each defendant is being held on $2 million bail, inmate records showed.
Anthony Avalos was found unresponsive after his mother called 911 and stated he had suffered a fall in their apartment in the 1100 block of East Avenue K on June 20. He died the next morning.
Barron and Leiva are accused of torturing the boy in the days before he died, prosecutors stated.
The director of the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services said in a statement Tuesday that Avalos had evidence of “being a victim of physical abuse, including signs of being severely beaten, as well as malnourishment.”
Family members said they want to know why the child was allowed to remain in the home despite years of documented abuse.
Avalos recently told family members he liked boys, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times, but investigators said homophobia has not yet come up as a motive.
If convicted as charged, Barron could receive a sentence of 22 years to life in prison, while Leiva faces a possible maximum sentence of 32 years to life.