20-month-old's death ruled a homicide


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An Iowa City man who was arrested in April for allegedly leaving a 20-month-old child alone is now being held in the Johnson County Jail on a $550,000 bond for two charges of child endangerment resulting in death.

According to an Iowa City police press release, a medical examination showed 20-month-old Marcus Balderas had broken ribs, bruises on his head, face, stomach, and back, bleeding in his head, and numerous bruises on his head. The final autopsy reported the death as a homicide with blunt force injuries of the head, the release said.

The complaint said that in addition to 20-year-old Perez, 18-year-old Mireya Balderas is being held in the Johnson County Jail on a $250,000 bond, charged with child endangerment resulting in death. The charge is a Class-B felony punishable for up to 50 years in jail.

According to the release, Perez admitted to hitting Marcus on the head/face with his knuckles at least twice, stepping hard on his stomach, tossing him into the air and not catching him, and slapping him on his face/head.

Perez told police officials he "never meant to kill him, it was just an accident."

Balderas admitted to holding a pillow on Marcus' face on at least five occasions to get him to sleep, witnessing Perez push Marcus off of his knee onto the floor, and witnessing him hit and beat Marcus, according to the release.

Perez, 20, 2018 Waterfront Drive No. 120, was charged April 27 with child endangerment/abuse.

Iowa City police responded to a 911 call from that address reporting a baby was having difficulty breathing. Police officials responded to the scene, and Marcus was transported to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where he was later pronounced dead, The Daily Iowan has previously reported.

Balderas reportedly had opportunities to leave her relationship with Perez but told investigators she chose him over her son.

According to online court documents Wednesday night, Perez has pleaded not guilty and will have a pretrial conference at 9 a.m. July 9 and a trial at 9 a.m. July 25.

The Iowa City police, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Iowa Department of Human Services, and the Johnson County Attorney's Office continue to jointly investigate Marcus' death.

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