Details of horrific abuse allegedly suffered by Anthony Avalos, a 10-year-old boy who apparently came out as bisexual weeks before he died, have been revealed in unsealed grand jury transcripts.
Anthony’s mother, Heather Maxine Barron, 29, and her boyfriend Kareem Ernesto Leiva, 32, punched, kicked and used wrestling moves on the child at their California home, assistant district attorney Jonathan Hatami said to the grand jury, according to WLS-TV.
The prosecutor also told the 25 members of the grand jury, who were gathered to decide whether an indictment was warranted over Anthony’s death in June, that the pair beat him with belts and a vacuum hose and cord, slammed his head against the floor and forced him to fight his siblings.
Brandon Nichols, deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Families (DFCS), stated that Anthony said “he liked boys and girls” before his death on June 21.
Alleged torture of Anthony Avalos detailed
The alleged series of torture methods included making Anthony kneel on rice, swallow hot sauce against his will and locking him in his room for days on end.
The mother and stepdad also starved Anthony and made him hold books and weights for painful amounts of time, the prosecution has claimed.
Barron and Levia, who have both pleaded not guilty, face charges which include murder involving the infliction of torture, meaning that prosecutors could decide to seek the death penalty in the event that they’re found guilty of murdering Anthony.
Hatami told the court: “The coroner’s report indicated that there was blunt force trauma to his head and his brain and also multiple blunt force trauma to his body.”
Sister of Anthony Avalos speaks to grand jury
Anthony’s eight-year-old sister, who was also allegedly abused by Barron and Leiva, also spoke on the stand.
The girl said she still loved her mum and that she missed Anthony, before claiming that she, Anthony and at least one of their brothers were made to kneel in rice, and that when it was over, she would be made to clean it up.
Hatami asked her: “Was there any blood on the rice?” to which she responded, “Yes.”
“Kareem would spank us with the belt on our feet.”
— Sister of Anthony Avalos
The girl said that Leiva pushed against their knees with his feet, causing them to cry—but would not stop until they ceased their tears. She said Anthony had many “boo-boos” on his knees from the alleged abuse.
She continued: “When (my other brother), me and Anthony were in trouble, we would go on the rice and Kareem would spank us with the belt on our feet. It hurt, so we were crying.”
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Anthony’s sister also described how Leiva allegedly forced the children to fight each other, saying: “So the boys would be in trouble, so Kareem would have me and (my other brother) beat up Anthony or me and Anthony beat up (my other brother).
“Kareem would have us pinch him or sock him,” she added, claiming that Barron watched and never tried to stop it.
The girl added that she and her eight sisters and brothers—aged between 11 months and 12 years old—would sometimes be told to eat plain peanut butter on bread or a corn tortilla, and punished if they didn’t finish quickly.
“Kareem would make them lay down and put their face in the pee.”
— Sister of Anthony Avalos
“Kareem would time us for two minutes or five to eat the tortilla or sandwich, and if we didn’t get it on time because it’s nasty we would get sriracha or Tapatio (hot sauce) on it,” she told the grand jury.
After her younger brother left his room one night in search of food, she said Leiva installed an alarm on the boys’ bedroom door.
“They said that since we are in trouble, we can’t have real food. They say that that’s a privilege,” she added.
If the boys, locked in their room, took to urinating on the floor, the girl said Leiva would make them sleep in the urine.
“Kareem would hold their legs, make them lay down, and put their face in the pee,” she told the court.