Case of co-defendant in child drug death drags on |

Case of co-defendant in child drug death drags on

Daniel Alvarado, cousin of girl’s mother Stephanie Alvarado, might go to preliminary hearing

Stephanie Alvarado is now convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 32 years in prison for the 2019 death of her 5-year-old daughter, the result of her accidentally ingesting methamphetamine while her mother and two others were using.

But the cases against the co-defendants in the case, Stephanie’s cousin Daniel Alvarado and friend Bertha Karina Ceballos-Romo, continue to drag on.

Ceballos-Romo, 29, hasn’t appeared in court for months and was deported last fall, but the case against her remains active.

Daniel Alvarado, 28, appeared virtually before 9th District Judge Denise Lynch on Thursday, who, along with Alvarado’s defense counsel, expressed frustration that the case hasn’t moved to the preliminary hearing stage.

Both Daniel Alvarado and Ceballos-Romo face accessory charges in the death of Sophia Larson of felony child abuse resulting in death, plus reckless endangerment and drug possession.

The cases are the last pieces of the justice puzzle for Sophia and her family, including father Alec Larson, who was separated from Stephanie Alvarado at the time of the incident.

In Daniel Alvarado’s case, a plea deal was offered at one point, said Deputy District Attorney Don Nottingham.

Defense attorney William Trent Palmer advised the judge that he has been trying to communicate with the District Attorney’s Office. But the recent departure of Deputy District Attorney Graham Jackson had complicated those communications, as Jackson had been the one prosecuting the case, Palmer said.

“Unfortunately, we’re not in a position to resolve this today,” he advised Judge Lynch.

Also at issue are multiple failures to appear in earlier court hearings on the part of Alvarado, who also hasn’t followed up with pre-trial services.

Currently, he’s out on bond. But that could change if Alvarado doesn’t follow up with pretrial, Lynch warned during the hearing.

“This is an awfully serious case to just look away from noncompliance with pretrial services,” she said. “He needs to check in today.”

A new court date of May 20 was set, at which time a preliminary hearing in the case could be set.

Stephanie Alvarado, now 28, also initially faced charges of child abuse resulting in death. But that charge was increased to first-degree murder and then to second-degree murder with her plea.

Daniel Alvarado and Ceballos-Romo were both subsequently charged in the case for contributing to the child’s death and allegedly not reacting fast enough to get her medical help when the incident occurred.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

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