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O.C. man could get life in beating death of niece, 2

January 12, 2011 |  4:41 pm

Michael Balderas booking photo A Cypress man who was awarded custody of his 2-year-old niece has been charged with beating her to death with a belt and his hand, authorities said Wednesday.

Michael David Balderas, 33, is also accused of raping Baby Jo Jade after he became the girl's caretaker when her mother was preparing to serve a federal prison sentence in Texas, the Orange County district attorney's office said.

Balderas faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Opening statements in his trial were scheduled to begin Wednesday afternoon at the courthouse in Santa Ana, the district attorney's office said.

Prosecutors said the girl was repeatedly beaten and sexually abused between January and March 2006.

On March 30, Balderas allegedly beat the girl to death after he became angry because she was crying and having bladder accidents, the district attorney's office said. Rescuers were unable to revive the girl, who died from internal bleeding caused by blunt-force trauma and repeated injuries.

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-- Robert J. Lopez

Photo: Michael David Balderas. Credit: Orange County district attorney's office

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