New trial date set for Iowa City mom accused in toddler's death

Perez faces two counts of child endangerment resulting in death

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An Iowa City mother accused in the death of her 20-month-old son has a new trial date after a Johnson County judge last month agreed to try her apart from her boyfriend and co-defendant.

Mireya Balderas, who turned 19 on Sunday, will be tried on a charge of child endangerment resulting in death on July 9, according to online court records. She originally was scheduled to be tried with her boyfriend, Jorge Perez, 21, on Dec. 11.

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 authorities say took his life on April 30.

Balderas’ single charge is for allegedly participating in the abuse that took her son’s life and for failing to protect the child from Perez.

Perez’s trial has not been reset as he approved a one-year waiver of his right to a speedy trial.

Balderas first hinted at her desire to separate the cases when she asked the Johnson County Attorney’s Office in July for an explanation of the charges against her. In that request, Balderas’ attorney asked why she faced charges if investigators have evidence that Perez told police, “It’s all my fault.”

Perez and Balderas were arrested June 10, weeks after Marcus Balderas died in April of blunt force injuries to his head. His death was ruled a homicide.

The Iowa Department of Human Services first 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 at that time noticed bruising on the child’s face but didn’t think it was unusual for a toddler, authorities said.

Five days later, Iowa City police and paramedics rushed to the house on a report of a child struggling to breathe. When they arrived, they found Marcus in distress and vomiting, according to court documents. Paramedics noticed bruising on Marcus’ face, and the child was rushed to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where he was pronounced dead, according to police.

According to investigators, Perez admitted to hitting Marcus in the face, holding a pillow over his head, stepping on his stomach and throwing him up without catching him. Balderas reportedly admitted to hitting her son, 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.

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