Rifle mother gets 32 years for daughter’s drug-induced death
Sobbing as she took the stand before Garfield County District Judge Denise Lynch Friday morning, Stephanie Alvarado took full responsibility for her young daughter’s death.
“The day I laid my child to rest, I wanted to go into the ground next to her,” she said in a prepared statement. “I didn’t want to leave her alone in the dirt.”
Alvarado, accused in 2019 of not seeking medical attention for her 5-year-old daughter, Sophia Larson, after she fatally ingested bong water contaminated with methamphetamine, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 32 years in prison. With additional felony charges, Alvarado was originally facing up to 48 years behind bars.
Alvarado was also sentenced to an additional three years for felony trespassing, a sentence which will run concurrently with her murder case.
“I am beyond sorry for contaminating your life with such raw and blunt pain,” Alvarado, speaking to her departed daughter, said. “There are no words to choose what has been done — her loss is beyond redemption.”
Alvarado previously expressed concern that she could lose custody or possibly face criminal charges if she had called authorities.
But that is not the case, Ninth District Attorney Jeff Cheney said.
In an email Friday, Cheney wrote that Colorado Statute 18-1-711 provides immunity for persons who suffer or report an emergency drug overdose. The provision aims to better notify the public and motivates members of the public to immediately get medical attention for persons suffering an overdose without fear of criminal prosecution for drug possession or drug use.
The provision was put in place by the Colorado Legislature in 2016 in an effort to save more lives by providing medical attention as soon as possible.
In her closing statement before handing down the substantial sentence, Lynch said Alvarado’s second-degree murder case was especially aggravated, being she “cared more about getting high on meth than taking care of her daughter.”
“Sophia suffered for over three hours before any attempt was made to get her to the hospital,” Lynch said. “There were three adults in that home and not a single one of them sought medical attention for Sophia.”
Lynch said after Larson ingested the water, she said “yuck” and went to bed.
“Sophia woke up a short time later, then was acting erratic — she was jittery, she was running around, her eyes were crossing, she was shivering, she turned blue and was in and out of consciousness,” she said.
According to arrest records, Alvarado was using meth with her cousin, Daniel Alvarado, and another accomplice, Bertha Ceballos-Romo on Dec. 11, 2019. During this time, Larson had unknowingly picked up and drank a container with water containing the Schedule III narcotic. The accidental ingestion led to Larson’s death, according to the Garfield County Coroner’s Office.
Alvarado would later tell authorities she did not initially seek medical attention for her daughter out of fear of losing custody, the Post Independent previously reported. Alvarado was initially charged with child abuse resulting in death, a class-two felony.
On Feb. 26, 2020, Alvarado was again arrested after she broke into the home of Larson’s father, Alec Larson, and attacked him. She faced several charges from the incident including felony burglary, criminal trespass, and violating bail bond conditions, and misdemeanor assault and criminal mischief.
Alvarado has since pleaded guilty to charges in both cases. Larson also addressed the court in the Friday sentencing hearing.
Alvarado, in her court statement, described the morning of Dec. 11, 2019 as “sick” and “twisted,” and that it’s something she will never forget. She also said, “I would willingly trade places with (Sophia Larson) in a heartbeat.”
“There is no forgiveness for placing her life in jeopardy,” Alvarado said. “The cold-blooded truth was, I was ignorant, afraid and oblivious that her life was in danger. I’m a selfish mother for neglecting Sophia Larson’s safety.”
Lynch said Alvarado so far has served 339 days of pre-sentence imprisonment, which will be added to both cases. Alvarado has 15 days to respond and object to the sentencing, if she chooses to do so.
“This was a senseless and very tragic death and I’m sorry for all,” Lynch said. “It could’ve been avoided had they not been high. It could’ve been avoided had they just taken simple steps of calling 911 or taken her to the hospital.”
Alvarado is now officially remanded to the Colorado Department of Corrections.
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More trails will open for the season on Sunday for mountain bikers in Aspen, Snowmass Village and Glenwood Springs.