Prosecutors seek death penalty in horrific abuse case

The District Attorney's office announced Wednesday that prosecutors will be seeking the death penalty against the mother and boyfriend accused in the murder and torture of 10-year-old Anthony Avalos.

Heather Maxine Barron, 29, and her boyfriend, Kareem Ernesto Leiva, 33, were indicted on those charges following the Lancaster boy's death in 2018. Both remain jailed without bond.

Prosecutors said Anthony was the victim of severe child abuse. They allege that the victim's mother and her boyfriend would repeatedly pour hot sauce on Anthony's face and mouth, whip him with a belt and cords, hold him upside down and drop him on his head over and over. 

Anthony's death investigation revealed the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services had received at least 16 reports regarding the physical and sexual abuse Anthony was enduring at home. 

Earlier this month, members of his family filed a $50 million lawsuit against the LA County's DCFS agency, accusing the county and multiple social workers of failing to properly respond to reports of abuses of Anthony — and his siblings. The suit was filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of Anthony's father, aunt, uncle and six half-siblings.

FOX 11's Gina Silva contributed to this report.