A woman and her boyfriend who were convicted last month of torturing and killing the woman’s 10-year-old son were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The office of former District Attorney Jackie Lacey initially sought the death penalty for the couple, 33-year-old Heather Maxine Barron and 37-year-old Kareem Ernesto Leiva, but current District Attorney George Gascón’s office decided against it, making life in prison without parole the harshest punishment allowed.
During the the victim impact statement portion of the hearing, one speaker asked the judge to give the couple “the maximum sentencing allowed.”
“These two are monsters, and monsters belong in cages. Please, do not give them the opportunity to hurt somebody else,” the speaker said.
The pair was convicted last month of first-degree murder and torture in the killing Anthony Avalos, who died June 21, 2018. The conviction was handed down by a judge, as the pair waived their right to a jury trial.
Prosecutors say Avalos was tortured for at least five days before he was found unresponsive in his family’s apartment in Lancaster on June 20, 2018.
That torture included pouring hot sauce on Avalos’ face and mouth, beating him repeatedly with a cord and belt, holding him upside down before dropping him on his head multiple times and forcing the other children in the apartment to hurt him, among other abuses, according to court records.
Avalos’ cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, among other factors, Dr. Juan Carrillo testified, according to the Antelope Valley Press.
He had come out as gay in the weeks before his death, according to Brandon Nichols, the then-deputy director and current director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.