Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
UNCLE SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON
FOR MURDERING 2½-YEAR-OLD NIECE
AFTER RECEIVING SOLE CUSTODY AND
BEATING HER WITH HAND AND BELT
SANTA ANA – An uncle was sentenced today to 25 years to life in state prison 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, was found guilty by a jury Jan. 25, 2011, of one felony count of second degree murder and one felony count of assault on a child with force likely to produce death.
In October 2005, Balderas received 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 brought the victim to live with him in Cypress. He was 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 physically abused Baby Jo Jade by inflicting blunt force to her body.
On March 30, 2006, Balderas became angry that the victim was crying and having bladder and bowel accidents. The defendant repeatedly beat Baby Jo Jade with his hand and a belt. Late that afternoon, Balderas called his girlfriend and asked 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.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Mike Murray of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.