Gathering for Anthony Avalos on what would've been his 13th birthday

Family and community members gathered on Saturday to celebrate Anthony Avalos, the Lancaster boy who was murdered, on what would've been his 13th birthday.

Video Transcript

VERONICA MIRACLE: An emotional day for the Avalos family. His birthday comes just days after the DA's decision to drop the death penalty against the boy's mother and boyfriend.

- District Attorney George Gascon saying, they're doing so to spare the family from years of drawn out appeals, and noting there is currently a moratorium on executions in California, so it wouldn't happen anyway. Eyewitness News reporter, Amy Powell, is live with more from loved ones today. Amy.

AMY POWELL: [INAUDIBLE] and Veronica, a lot of emotions for this family. They're celebrating Anthony's life, but they're also upset with the district attorney over his decision on the death penalty. But most of all, they miss the little boy who suffered so much abuse before his death.

- He was a great kid and always had a smile.

AMY POWELL: Heartfelt tributes from family members and friends, gathering to celebrate what would have been the 13th birthday of a little boy who they say was always sweet and affectionate. Anthony Avalos died in June of 2018.

MARIA BARRON: I was lucky enough to become Anthony's aunt. From the moment he was inside the belly to the moment he came out, he was my baby. I will always remember his first words, the first time crawling, his first steps.

AMY POWELL: The 10-year-old Lancaster resident's death coming after he suffered what prosecutors describe as several days of abuse and torture. Loved ones are still mourning the loss.

DAVID BARRON: We were mom and dad to him. We were an uncle and-- and now we have to live every day without him. You know, the last thing I got to do with him was take him fishing and tell him I will take you forever. And I failed him. The system failed him.

AMY POWELL: Anthony's mother, 31-year-old, Heather Barron, and her boyfriend, 35-year-old, Kareem Leiva, are charged with murder and torture. LA County District Attorney George Gascon has decided not to seek the death penalty against the pair, saying it is never an appropriate resolution in any case. Family members strongly disagree with Gascon's decision.

MARIA BARRON: I just don't understand his policies. I'm all for reform, but not when it comes to taking a child's life. You know, it wasn't an accident. They did-- they tortured him for years.

AMY POWELL: Anthony's mother and her boyfriend now face a maximum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole if they're convicted.