Woman Accused in Toddler Death Allowed to Live with Father Until Trial

By Vanessa Miller, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa - An Iowa City mother accused in the death of her 20-month-old son has been allowed to leave jail and live with her father until her trial, which is scheduled for July.

Mireya Balderas, 19, faces a charge of child endangerment resulting in death after her 20-month-old son, Marcus Balderas, died of blunt force injuries to the head on April 30. Balderas' boyfriend, Jorge Perez, faces two counts of child endangerment resulting in death in connection with what investigators call a series of assaults that they believe led to the toddler's death and to the injuries that took his life.

Balderas' charge stems from accusations that she participated in the abuse and failed to protect her child from Perez.

Perez, 20, is being held in the Johnson County Jail in lieu of a $2 million bond. Balderas was being held on a $1 million bond until a judge ruled Feb. 1 to modify the conditions of her pretrial release and allow her to live with her father, Jesus Balderas, until her trial – currently scheduled for July 9.

According to the judge's ruling, Balderas is ordered to "abide by all additional and conditions specified by both the department (of correctional services) and her father."

Perez's trial is set for Sept. 17. His last request for a bond modification was denied.

Both Perez and Balderas were arrested June 10 – weeks after the toddler died.

The Iowa Department of Human Services had been called to the home that Perez and Balderas shared at 2018 Waterfront Drive on April 25 on a report that Perez had left Marcus home alone. A DHS worker who responded noticed bruising on the child's face at the time, but didn't find it unusual for a toddler, authorities said.

Iowa City police were called to the mobile home five days later on April 30 on a report of the child struggling to breathe. When they arrived, they found Marcus in distress and vomiting, and paramedics noticed bruises on Marcus face, court documents show.

The child was rushed to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where he was pronounced dead. According to police, Perez admitted to hitting Marcus in the face with his knuckles, holding a pillow over the child's head, stepping on his stomach, and throwing him up without catching him.

Balderas, according to police, admitted to hitting her son in the face, holding a pillow over his head and watching her boyfriend abuse the boy.

If convicted, Perez and Balderas could spend up to 50 years in prison on each charge.
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