Maria Alvarado-Gomez, charged with giving her children poisoned milkshakes and described by her attorney as deeply depressed, will not be released from jail on personal recognizance, Judge James Boyd decided Tuesday.
Alvarado-Gomez, 32, of Carbondale, is being held at the Garfield County Jail on a $300,000 bond on two counts of first-degree attempted murder stemming from allegations that she fed her daughters, 8 and 11, rat poison in June.
Public defender Tina Fang argued for a personal recognizance bond, which would allow Alvarado-Gomez to be released without putting money down. Fang asserted that her client, who generally goes by Viviana, is not a flight risk and would have better resources for mental health care outside of jail.
Alvarado-Gomez has no criminal history and was deemed by the Colorado Pretrial Assessment Tool to have a 95 percent chance of returning to court.
“What is alleged to have happened is completely out of her character,” Fang said.
Although she acknowledged the severity of the charges, Fang said that no lasting physical damage was done and that the girls are in therapy and “doing really, really well.”
A protection order would have barred Alvarado-Gomez from living with or contacting her children had she been released.
Fang cited mental health as a mitigating circumstance of the case, and reported that Alvarado-Gomez was receiving treatment right before the incident.
“To describe her as pervasively depressed ... is an understatement,” Fang said.
Further Fang reminded the court that Alvarado-Gomez was ultimately the one who reported the crime.
“No one would have ever known about this had Viviana not told her therapist and medical provider,” she said.
Deputy District Attorney Anne Norrdin saw things differently.
Norrdin reminded the court of the chronology recorded by the initial arrest affidavit: Alvarado-Gomez purchased the poison at a Carbondale hardware store roughly two months after getting the idea from a television show, mixed it into shakes for herself and her daughters, used various tactics to get them to drink despite the funny taste, and didn’t tell anyone or seek medical attention until more than a day later.
Alvarado-Gomez told police through an interpreter that she “would rather the children be dead than alive in Mexico,” where she said the girls’ father wanted to take them.
The father, Martin Luciano-Gonzalez, was present during the court appearance Tuesday morning, but did not testify or comment.
Norrdin said Alvarado-Gomez didn’t ask about the well-being of her daughters until well into an interview with the district attorney’s office and said she knew her kids were not safe with her.
“I think we can glean information about her character based on the allegations in this case,” said Norrdin, adding that the severity of the sentence in the event of a conviction would give her extra motivation not to appear. Each attempted murder count carries a potential sentence of 16 to 48 years in prison. Alvarado-Gomez also is charged with felony child abuse.
Judge Boyd agreed with Norrdin.
“There are significant issues related to danger to the community and incentive to flee,” he said. “Some people in need of health treatment are, in fact, a danger to themselves and their community, at least until they make some progress.”
With no diagnosis presented in court, Boyd didn’t believe any such progress has been demonstrated.