Death of Anthony Avalos: Pediatrician says boy was ‘skin and bones’ when he arrived at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — A pediatrician at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital testified Monday that a Lancaster boy who died from alleged physical abuse at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend was extremely malnourished when he arrived at the hospital, describing him as “skin and bones.” .

dr Andranik Madikians told the court that almost all of 10-year-old Anthony Avalos’ organs were failing when he arrived. He said his eyes were sunken and his body was bruised and burned.

A CT scan showed bleeding and swelling of the brain. Madikians was one of two doctors who testified Monday that the trauma to Anthony’s brain resembled “Shaken Baby Syndrome.”

Earlier Monday, a detective said that when detectives searched the Lancaster flat where the boy was found dead, they found a corner where the carpeting had been pulled up.

Anthony’s siblings testified that there they were forced to kneel on uncooked rice while holding weights, sometimes for hours – often until their knees bled.

Priscilla Cabunoc, a nurse at UCLA’s Mattel Children’s Hospital, told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sam Ohta that she saw hundreds of sick or injured children die while at work and that Heather Maxine Barron, the mother of the deceased Anthony, one of the fatalities were few who were not present in the hospital room when the child died.

In the other cases, the parents were not in the area or could not be present for legitimate reasons, Cabunoc said.

The nurse testified that Barron spent about 10 minutes with her son before his death and then asked if she could be excused into the waiting room. Barron spoke with a slur and her concern for her son appeared to be fake, according to Cabunoc.

“It looked to me like she was forcing herself to have some emotion,” Cabunoc said.

None of the boy’s relatives were present when he died, although one of his aunts entered his room a short time later, Cabunoc said. According to Cabunoc, Barron didn’t return to the room until about an hour and 15 minutes later.

Barron, now 33, and her ex-boyfriend Kareem Ernesto Leiva, now 37, are each charged with murder and torture in connection with Anthony’s death in June 2018, along with two counts of child abuse involving two of the boy’s half – Siblings identified in court only as “Destiny O.” and “Rafael O.”

The number of murders includes the allegation of circumstances surrounding the murder involving the use of torture. Because of the objection of Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Hatami, the Los Angeles County Attorney’s Office dropped its motion for the death penalty against the two following the election of District Attorney George Gascon in 2020, who issued a directive that “a death sentence is never an adequate resolution.” In any case.”

Barron and Leiva now face a maximum of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted as charged.

In another testimony, Helen Withers, a forensic services nurse at Antelope Valley Medical Center, told the judge that her facility was the first the boy was taken to and that he was apparently malnourished and had bruises all over his body.

“His bones were sticking out,” Withers said. “You could count his ribs and they didn’t have a lot of fat.”

Withers, reading from her medical report, said Barron went on to tell her that her son had not eaten well for the past three days. Barron also said Anthony told her he thought he was gay and she said she loved him anyway, according to Withers.

Barron went on to say that her son fell while playing basketball at school, was pushed down while playing basketball, and fell on the carpet of their apartment, according to Withers, who also said Anthony was later transferred to UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital been.

dr Michael Gertz, the AVMC’s emergency physician on duty when Anthony arrived, testified that the boy had no pulse or heart activity, was motionless and his pupils were unresponsive.

Before former sheriff’s homicide detective Omar Miranda took the witness stand, Assistant District Attorney Saeed Teymouri spoke to relatives seated in the front row of the gallery to warn them that a PowerPoint presentation of the boy’s autopsy photos would not be available during testimony from Miranda would be shown. who now works in the Special Enforcement Bureau handling tactical operations.

Family members chose to stay and remained calm as the color images, some showing the child’s entire body and injuries, were shown over a period of about five minutes. Barron and Leiva showed no reaction during the photo exhibition.

Last October, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors officially approved a $32 million settlement for a lawsuit filed by the boy’s relatives — two of whom testified last week that they were the Department of Children and County Family Services of the alleged abuse. The lawsuit alleged that several social workers failed to adequately respond to reports of the abuse of Anthony and his siblings.

The lawsuit cited other high-profile child deaths also monitored by the DCFS — 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez and 4-year-old Noah Cuatro, both from Palmdale — to allege systemic flaws at the agency.

City News Service, Inc. contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023 City News Service, Inc. All rights reserved. Death of Anthony Avalos: Pediatrician says boy was ‘skin and bones’ when he arrived at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital

Laura Coffey

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