Mother of girl who died from meth overdose gets 5 charges

Thomas Phippen
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Prosecutors this week filed first-degree murder charges against Stephanie Alvarado for the death of her daughter, Sophia Larson, who died of methamphetamine intoxication in December.

The upgraded charges were filed Wednesday in Alvarado’s first court appearance since her Jan. 30 arrest, but she attended the hearing in handcuffs after getting arrested earlier in the day on separate charges for allegedly assaulting Alec Larson, the father of Sophia.

About 25 people sat in the courtroom for Alvarado’s hearing, with approximately the same number sitting on either side of the courtroom.

Larson and others seated behind the prosecutors wore black T-shirts with “Justice for Sophia” printed in yellow.

Alvarado initially faced charges of child abuse resulting in death, a class two felony the same level as manslaughter, for the death of Sophia Larson.

Sophia Larson died of methamphetamine intoxication, according to the Garfield County coroner, after allegedly ingesting water contaminated with the drug.

According to probable cause documents, Alvarado told police she feared she might lose custody of her daughter if she took her to the hospital.

Details of Alvarado’s five new charges were not immediately available, but they include felonies of burglary, criminal trespass, and violating bail bond conditions, and misdemeanor assault and criminal mischief.

Prosecutors in court asked for a mandatory protection order to “prevent the actions of last night, where she did allegedly assault one of the individuals on the protection order,” chief deputy district attorney Steve Mallory said.

District Attorney Jeff Cheney said the new charges should justify a much higher bond than initially set, and Magistrate Judge Susan Ryan agreed, setting the new bond at $1 million.

Alvarado’s bond was initially set at $30,000 prior to her Jan. 30 arrest, and she posted it the same day.

Alvarado also faces charges of tampering with evidence and drug possession.

Co-defendants Daniel Alvarado, Stephanie’s cousin, and Bertha Ceballos-Romo also posted bond shortly after their arrests Jan. 30.

In a previous statement about the level of charges filed against Alvarado and the other defendants, Cheney said he intended to prosecute individuals each with the highest possible charges.

“It must be said that they are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, I intend to prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law and for charges for which there is sufficient evidence which prove the elements of the available and appropriate crimes as defined by the legislature in our criminal code,” Cheney said.

First-degree murder, either of extreme indifference or with a victim under the age of 12 by someone in a position of trust, is eligible for capital punishment under current Colorado law.

The state Legislature on Wednesday passed a bill to repeal the death penalty, effective for crimes charged after July 1, 2020.