A joint investigation of the recent death of 20-month-old Marcus Balderas has lead to the arrest of the child’s mother and boyfriend after the pair admitted to hitting and smothering the baby on numerous occasions.
A release from the Iowa City police department said officials arrested 18-year-old Mireya Balerdas and her 20-year-old boyfriend Jorge Perez for child endangerment resulting in death.
Balderas admitted to hitting the baby on the face numerous times, holding a pillow to the baby’s face at least five times to get him to sleep, and witnessing her boyfriend abuse the child, the release said.
Officials said her boyfriend admitted to hitting the child on the face with his knuckles at least twice, holding a pillow to the child’s face up to seven times because the baby wouldn’t sleep, stepping on the baby’s stomach, tossing the baby from up to four feet high to the ground, throwing the baby in the air and not catching him, and slapping the 20-month-old in the face.
Perez told police he never meant to kill the child and it was an accident. The release said the Balderas had several opportunities to end her relationship with Perez, but Balderas told police she chose her boyfriend over her son.
The arrests come after Marcus was pronounced dead at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics following a 911 call to the couple’s home at 2018 Waterfront Drive of a child with trouble breathing on April 30.
The death occurred just days after Perez was arrested and accused of child endangerment without injury after allegedly leaving the same child home alone for up to 20 minutes on April 25.
A medical exam determined the child had broken ribs, multiple bruises on his head, face, back, and stomach, internal injuries and subdural bleeding in his head. A final autopsy determined the manner of death as a homicide, resulting from blunt force injuries to the child’s head. An joint investigation between Iowa City police, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Iowa Department of Human Services and the Johnson County Attorney’s Office led to the Sunday arrest of Balderas and Perez.
Child endangerment resulting in death is a Class B Felony, punishable by up to 50 years in prison. Perez is being held at the Johnson County Jail with a bond of $500,000. Balderas’ is being held at the same location with a $250,000 bond.