An 18-year-old Iowa City mother facing charges in connection with her toddler son’s death has waived her right to a speedy trial and had the case reset for trial in December.
Mireya Balderas and her boyfriend Jorge Perez, 21, were arrested June 10 on suspicion of child endangerment resulting in death charges after Marcus Balderas died April 30 at just 20 months old.
Perez is facing two counts of child endangerment resulting in death charges – one for a series of assaults that police say led to the toddler’s death, and one for the injuries that investigators say took Marcus’ life.
Balderas is facing one count of child endangerment resulting in death on allegations that she participated in the abuse and didn’t protect her child from Perez.
The couple was originally scheduled to be tried together on Sept. 4. Perez has not waived his right to a speedy trial, and he’s still scheduled to go before a jury on that date. Balderas’ case was reset to Dec. 11 on Wednesday, according to Johnson County Court records.
The Johnson County Medical Examiner’s Office determined Marcus died of blunt force injuries to the head and called the death a homicide.
The Iowa Department of Human Services was called to the home of Perez and Balderas at 2018 Waterfront Drive on April 25 on a report that Perez had left Marcus home alone. A DHS worker noticed bruising on the child’s face at that time, but didn’t feel it was out of the ordinary 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, according to court documents.
Marcus had been in the care of Perez at the time, and paramedics noticed bruises on Marcus’ face, court documents show. He was rushed to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where he was pronounced dead.
Perez, according to police, later admitted to hitting Marcus in the face with his knuckles, holding a pillow of the child’s head, stepping on his stomach and throwing him up without catching him. Balderas reportedly admitted to hitting her son in the face, holding a pillow over his head to get him to sleep and watching her boyfriend abuse the boy, according to authorities.
If convicted, Perez and Balderas could face up to 50 years in prison for each charge.