Children removed from home of accused Iowa City couple

BY ALY BROWN | JUNE 13, 2012 6:30 AM

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Three children have been removed from the home of an Iowa City couple accused of child endangerment resulting in death.

Jorge Perez, 20, and Mireya Balderas, 18, are charged with beating 20-month-old Marcus Balderas to death in April.

Iowa City police Lt. Doug Hart said three children related to Perez, ranging from 3 to 9 years of age, have been removed from the home and placed in foster care.

Hart said he hasn't seen any cases like this one before.

The bonds for Perez and Balderas have significantly increased since they reportedly admitted to abusing the child.

Perez now faces two counts of child endangerment resulting in death and one count of child endangerment/abuse after reportedly leaving Marcus home alone April 27.

He is being held in the Johnson County Jail on a $2.05 million bond, according to officials at the jail. The Daily Iowan reported Perez's bond at $550,000 Sunday night.

Balderas is charged with one count of child endangerment resulting in death, and she is being held in the Johnson County Jail on a $1 million bond. Her bond was set at $250,000 Sunday night.

Both face Class-B felony charges, punishable for up to 50 years in prison.

Perez reportedly admitted to hitting, stepping on, tossing, and dropping Marcus, as well as holding a pillow over his face when he would not sleep, according to an Iowa City press release.

"I never meant to kill him," Perez told police officials, according to the press release. "It was just an accident."

Balderas told police officials that she observed Perez abusing her son but chose not to leave him.

Police officials responded to 2018 Waterfront Drive No. 120, and Marcus was transported to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, where he was later pronounced dead, the DI has previously reported.

According to an Iowa City police press release, the autopsy on Marcus' body reported the death as a homicide with blunt-force injuries to the head. The medical examination showed he sustained broken ribs, bruises on his head, face, stomach, and back, bleeding in his head, and numerous bruises on his head.

Perez has pleaded not guilty; he will have a pretrial conference at 9 a.m. July 9 and a trial at 9 a.m. July 24.

Lawyer Thomas Diehl will represent Perez, according to online court documents Tuesday night.

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