Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
January 12, 2011
Susan Kang Schroeder
UNCLE FACES TRIAL FOR MURDERING 2½-YEAR-OLD NIECE AFTER RECEIVING SOLE CUSTODY AND
BEATING HER WITH HAND AND BELT
*Defendant is also accused of raping and sodomizing the toddler
SANTA ANA – An uncle faces trial today for murdering his 2½-year-old niece by repeatedly beating her with his hand and belt after gaining custody and becoming the victim’s sole caretaker. Michael David Balderas, 33, Cypress, is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder with torture and one felony count of assault on a child with force likely to produce great bodily injury resulting in death. If convicted, Balderas faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. Opening statements are expected to begin this afternoon, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011, in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.
In October 2005, Balderas is accused of receiving custody of his 2½-year-old niece Baby Jo Jade because his sister was preparing to serve a federal prison sentence in Texas. In January 2006, the defendant is accused of bringing the victim to live with him in Cypress. He is accused of being unemployed and the sole caretaker of Baby Jo Jade. The defendant’s girlfriend also lived in the house, but was not home during the day because she worked as a school teacher.
Between January and March 2006, Balderas is accused of physically and sexually abusing Baby Jo Jade including raping and sodomizing her and inflicting blunt force to her body.
On March 30, 2006, Balderas is accused of becoming angry that the victim was crying and having bladder and bowel accidents. The defendant is accused of repeatedly beating Baby Jo Jade with his hand and a belt. Late that afternoon, Balderas is accused of calling his girlfriend and asking her to come home. When Balderas’ girlfriend arrived, she found the victim unresponsive, called 911, and took the baby and defendant to the hospital immediately.
Hospital personnel were unable to resuscitate Baby Jo Jade, who was pronounced dead as a result of internal bleeding caused by blunt force trauma and repeated injury. It was determined that the baby had also been the victim of sexual abuse. Balderas is accused of providing a penile swab, which was found to have DNA from Baby Jo Jade.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Mike Murray of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.