Full coverage: The death of 10-year-old Anthony Avalos

A photo of Anthony Avalos is displayed in a picture frame, sitting near other family photos
A photo of Anthony Avalos taken in 2013 when he was 6 years old. He died on June 21, 2018, at age 10.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

The mother of 10-year-old Anthony Avalos and her boyfriend were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2018 murder and torture of the child in their Lancaster home.

Anthony’s mother, Heather Barron, and her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, opted to have their case heard by a judge rather than a jury. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Sam Ohta handed down the verdict in March after spending a little over two weeks reviewing evidence.

Anthony died on June 21, 2018, after arriving at the emergency room with fatal bleeding in his skull. His 77-pound body showed signs of prolonged abuse.

Anthony had been under the supervision of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services sporadically from 2013 to 2017. During that period, at least 13 calls were made by teachers, police, counselors and relatives to the child abuse hotline about Anthony’s welfare.

But child protective workers and others tasked with protecting Anthony missed numerous warnings and opportunities to intervene before his death, according to dozens of interviews and a review of court records, documents from the department and records of outside agencies hired by the county to help Anthony and his family.

In October 2018, a grand jury indicted Barron and Leiva on charges that they murdered the boy and abused two other children in the household.

On March 31, 2022, a state licensing board imposed a four-year probation on Barbara Dixon, a contracted L.A. County counselor, for failing to report the suspected abuse.

A lawsuit filed by Anthony’s family in 2019 against the county, DCFS and one of its contractors sought $50 million in damages and alleged that social workers willfully disregarded concerns about abuse and failed to protect the boy.

Last year, the family and the county announced they had reached a tentative $32-million settlement.