UPDATED: Couple allegedly admits to beating Iowa City child - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATED: Police: Mother, boyfriend admit to beating Iowa City child

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

Iowa City Police say a woman and her boyfriend admitted to them they hit and threw her 20-month-old son several times.   The child died in April from injuries he sustained to the head.

Police have arrested 18-year-old Mireya Balderas and charged her with Child Endangerment Resulting in Death.  Her boyfriend, 20-year-old Jorge Perez already faces two charges of Child Endangerment Resulting in Death.  

Police were called to the couples Waterfront Dr. apartment in April to a report of a baby with difficult breathing.  20-month-old Marcus Balderas was taken to an Iowa City hospital where he later died.

Police say a medical examination showed the boy had broken ribs, multiple bruises on his head, face, back and stomach, internal injuries, and subdural bleeding in his head. The final autopsy report lists the manner of death as homicide with the cause being blunt force injuries of the head.

Police say Perez admitted to hitting Marcus on his head/face with his knuckles at least twice, holding a pillow on Marcus' face 6 to 7 times because he would not sleep, stepping hard on Marcus' stomach, tossing Marcus from 3 to 4 feet high onto the ground, tossing Marcus into the air and not catching him, and slapping Marcus on his face/head.  They say Perez told officers, "I never meant to kill him, it was just an accident."

Police say Balderas admitted to hitting Marcus numerous times on the head/face, holding a pillow on Marcus' face on at least 5 occasions to get him to sleep, witnessing Perez toss Marcus on the floor from a height of 3 to 4 feet, witnessing Perez hit and beat Marcus on several occasions, witnessing Perez hold a pillow over Marcus' face to get him to sleep, and witnessing Perez push Marcus of his knee onto the floor.

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

Perez is being held at the Johnson County Jail with a bond of $500,000.00. Balderas is being held at the Johnson County Jail with a bond of $250,000.00.

UPDATE:

After numerous comments from KWWL viewers and readers, we reached out to Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness about this case, to ask why murder charges have not been filed.

Lyness indicated that the current charge of child endangerment resulting in death is considered an "enhanced class B felony," which is punishable by up to 50 years in prison.  This is the same sentence that can be carried to persons charged with 2nd degree murder.  So she believes the child endangerment charge was "appropriate" in this matter.

Lyness added that the investigation is ongoing, and it is possible that additional charges could be filed at a later date.

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