Balderas, Jorge

Balderas

An Idaho Falls man who was arrested in July after a woman said he kidnapped, burned and beat her has been charged with intimidating a witness.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Jorge Luis Balderas, 26, told the witness that she needed to withdraw her statement about his involvement “for your sake.”

Balderas was arrested after he reportedly tied the victim to a chair in his basement three times. During that time, he and several others reportedly tortured the victim. Balderas reportedly poured lighter fluid under the victim’s chair and ignited it.

On March 13, Balderas, who was not incarcerated at the time, had a video call with one of his codefendants, Sasha Martinez, who had beaten the victim and carved the letter “N” into the victim’s face. Martinez was in the Bonneville County Jail.

During the call Balderas reportedly instructed Martinez to “send a message,” to three female inmates at the Bonneville County Jail, and that the order to do so was from “high up.”

“It is my understanding that this is Jorge wanting violence performed on (the inmate) whenever Sasha sees (the inmate) and that this order is from high up from the group of people he associates with,” an Idaho Falls Police Department detective wrote in the affidavit.

Balderas then confronted Martinez about a statement she had made against him in his criminal case. According to court records, Martinez told investigators Balderas and Austin Alverado, another codefendant, were the ones who “picked up” the victim of the kidnapping.

Balderas told Martinez he had a status conference scheduled for March 23, and that he wanted her to withdraw her statement before then. Martinez denied making any statement against Balderas, according to the affidavit.

The two went back and forth, with Balderas telling Martinez he had read her statement to police. He reportedly told Martinez to tell the court she was “off her crazy pills or something, make something up.”

The detective noted Balderas was holding a torch during his conversation and turning it on and off. The detective notes in the affidavit that several of the accusations against Balderas in the kidnapping case involved the use of fire to torture the victim. Court records indicate that in addition to reportedly lighting a fire under the victim’s legs, Balderas was accused of burning her with a torch and using tools heated by Alverado to torment her.

Balderas was charged with intimidating a witness, punishable with up to five years in prison. He was released after posting a $20,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. May 5 in Bonneville District Court.

The Bonneville County Prosecutor’s Office filed a motion Monday to revoke Balderas’ bond in his kidnapping case, and a pretrial conference is scheduled for June 1. Pretrial conferences are scheduled for Martinez and codefendant Laura Zamudio for April 27. A status conference is scheduled in Alverado’s case for May 18.

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