Mother of 6-year-old killed in Mission drive-by speaks out

Juliana Balderas, the mother of a 6-year-old killed in a drive-by shooting, clutches a photo of her daughter, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, during a hearing at the Hidalgo County Courthouse in Edinburg. (Xavier Alvarez | [email protected])

EDINBURG — “She was my first love.”

So said 25-year-old Juliana Balderas, the grieving mother of Yvone Adele Mireles, the 6-year-old who was killed in a Mission drive-by shooting more than a year ago.

The four men accused of killing her appeared in court Monday morning.

“She had something very special,” Balderas said in Spanish about her daughter, Yvone. “She was very special to me in my heart.”

During the hearing, about seven family members, including a newborn baby, gathered outside the courtroom, wearing custom t-shirts displaying Yvone’s picture. Only Balderas, who held a portrait of her daughter, and one other family member were allowed in the courtroom for the pre-trial hearing.

The four men, Alton residents 43-year-old Marco Antonio Chairez and 44-year-old Juan Ramon Garcia Olaguez, along with 43-year-old Edinburg resident Daniel Guzman-Flores and 30-year-old Mission resident William Garcia, were all charged with capital murder of a person under ten years of age.

Garcia is out of jail on a total of $125,000 in bonds. He stood just feet away from Balderas during his hearing. Chairez is being held on $1,100,000 in bonds, Olaguez on a total of $375,000 and Guzman-Flores on $575,000.

At the hearing, Balderas called out to Chairez as she held the portrait of her daughter. She yelled at him, telling him that he knew what he had done. Chairez’s court-appointed attorney, O. Rene Flores, shielded Chairez’s eyes with his hand as they left the courtroom.

The four men are scheduled to reappear before Judge Gonzalez in early December.

They’re accused of shooting the child in the head while she watched television inside her home in the 2400 block of Valencia Avenue in Mission on Feb. 23, 2021.

“A person who kills a little girl isn’t a man, they’re cowards,” Julio Cesar Balderas, the child’s grandfather, said in Spanish.

The family said their street has a history of drive-bys and believe the men had planned to shoot up the neighborhood, stating that they would see them often pass by in their vehicles.

According to Balderas, her sister-in-law once dove on top of Baldera’s five-year-old son, who the family calls Panchito, during another drive-by shooting. Her sister-in-law was pregnant at the time and nearly lost her daughter.

The suspects accused of killing 6-year-old Yvone Adele Mireles stand during a hearing, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, at the Hidalgo County Courthouse in Edinburg. (Xavier Alvarez | [email protected])

Balderas said Panchito was in the room the day his sister was shot and that he left the room looking pale.

“It angers me,” Balderas said. “I know they have kids of their own and I know they wouldn’t like this happening to them.”

The grieving mother recounted the last moments she saw her daughter alive, saying that Yvone was close to her grandfather, her uncle and her brother, Panchito.

Prior to the shooting she had been at her grandfather’s residence. He gave her chocolate-covered strawberries, fed her chicken and she told him she loved him before she left.

Balderas said Yvone would frequently stay with her grandfather, but on that fateful day, she came home with her and they both ate pizza before she went to work.

Yvone played outside on the trampoline with her uncle and Balderas’s ex-boyfriend, who was supervising her. She had asked Yvone, who wanted to play outside, to stay inside for the rest of the day because she felt “something strong in her chest.”

“She gave me a look, a look of saying ‘goodbye’,” Balderas said Monday, as she wept. “That hurts me a lot because I was at work when they called me about the shooting.”

The mother received a call from her ex-boyfriend telling her that Yvone had been shot in the head and her manager drove her to her house, but by the time she arrived, her daughter was already dead.

She said Yvone loved making TikTok videos and that she loved to dance and play with Panchito. They were very close to each other, she said.

When Yvone watched her mother remove her make-up, she would tell her that even without make-up her mom shined beautifully.

“She always had a smile on her face,” Balderas said. “I never saw her sad.”

The loss has taken a toll on her.

Just going home is painful because her daughter is not there. Her mother urged her to be strong and keep moving forward for her son.

“I’m very strong, but inside I feel like I’m dying, I’m dying,” she said.