BRIGHTON, Colo. (KDVR) — First-degree murder charges have been dropped against the parents of a toddler who died with fentanyl in her system.
Nicole Casias, 31, and Alonzo Montoya, 32, were indicted in September on counts of first-degree murder in the death of their nearly 2-year-old daughter. But a judge found the parents did not “knowingly” kill their child, even though she was exposed to fentanyl and then left unattended for 14 hours while they used and sold drugs.
“There was not evidence that either defendant gave fentanyl to the child, knew the child had consumed fentanyl or had let the child roam free overnight with fentanyl being available within easy reach,” Chief Judge Don Quick wrote in a ruling that dismissed the murder charges. “If so, the court could have found evidence establishing probable cause for the murder charge.”
Still, the judge found probable cause for other charges in the case, including child abuse, racketeering and conspiracy. The couple is accused of using and selling drugs both before and after the child’s death.
The 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said in a statement that it’s “studying the judge’s ruling,” which came on Dec. 1.
Video in the child’s room recorded the child “coughing, crying and gasping throughout the night” for nearly six hours until she took her final breath, court records show. Tests showed the child’s system had 10 times the lethal amount of fentanyl for an intolerant adult, along with methamphetamine.
The child was found dead at the family’s Brighton apartment on Jan. 2.