Rifle mom now charged with murder in 5-year-old’s meth overdose makes first court appearance

Problem Solvers
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (KDVR) — The 26-year-old Rifle, Colorado mother charged for the methamphetamine overdose death of her 5-year-old daughter made her first court appearance Wednesday afternoon.

Stephanie Alvarado appeared in front of Judge Susan Ryan in a Garfield County courtroom for her arraignment.

She is now charged with two counts of first-degree murder: extreme indifference and victim under the age of 12 in a position of trust. She is also charged with child abuse causing death, possession of a controlled substance and tampering with physical evidence.

Rifle police say Alvarado along with her two cousins, 27-year-old Daniel Alvarado and 26-year-old Bertha Karina Ceballos-Roma, all confessed to smoking meth on the night Sophia Larson died.

Daniel Alvarado and Ceballos-Roma both face charges of child abuse resulting in death, possession of controlled substance and reckless endangerment. Ceballos-Romo faces an additional count of tampering with evidence after police said she tried to clean up evidence from the apartment where Sophia overdosed.

The FOX31 Problem Solvers first reported on the arrests Jan. 30 after the three adults were formally charged following a seven-week investigation that began when Larson died on Dec. 11.

Investigators say Sophia drank from a water bottle, unaware it was contaminated with meth.

Court records reveal Stephanie Alvarado and her cousins waited more than three hours to take Sophia to the hospital even though the 5-year-old was acting hyper and hallucinating.

Alec Larson, father of Sophia Larson

Sophia’s father, Alec Larson, told FOX31 he still can’t believe his ex-girlfriend waited so long to take their daughter to an emergency room.

Peter Rice, professor of Clinical Pharmacy – Univ. of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy

“I feel like she almost certainly would’ve been saved if they had immediately taken her to the hospital,” said Peter Rice, a professor of clinical pharmacy at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy.

Rice reviewed Larson’s autopsy report for FOX31 and said the 787 nanograms of meth in the little girl’s blood was clearly toxic but reversible with immediately medical attention.

“Almost certainly she would’ve lived if she had been taken immediately to the hospital. But you can understand how adults are concerned about themselves getting into trouble,” Rice said.

Daniel Alvarado and Ceballos-Roma are free on bond but subject to drug testing as part of their bond conditions.

Stephanie Alvarado’s bond was set at $1 million Wednesday.

She is due back in court on Thursday on new charges, including domestic violence, burglary, assault, violation of bond conditions, criminal mischief and trespassing. Those charges stem from an alleged domestic violence incident at Alec Larson’s residence in Carbondale on Wednesday morning.

Prosecutors are expected to ask for an additional $500,000 bond on the new charges.

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