BRIGHTON – A grand jury in Colorado has indicted two parents on charges of first-degree murder after their toddler died from fentanyl poisoning earlier this year.
The indictment released on Thursday alleges that the couple participated in storing, selling and using drugs, including cocaine, fentanyl and methamphetamine, in their home in Brighton, a town just north of Denver, while their 1-year-old daughter was present.
Fentanyl, an opioid many times more powerful than heroin, has gained infamy across the country and in Colorado as the number of overdoses involving the drug in Denver alone rose 40% between 2020 and 2021, according to Denver’s Department of Public Health and Environment.
Children overdosing on the drug has become more common, too, with prosecutors in Northern California filing murder charges against parents whose 15-month-old child died after ingesting fentanyl in May.
In Brighton, Alonzo Montoya, 31, and Nicole Casias, 31, exposed their toddler to fentanyl between Jan. 1 and Jan. 2, after which law enforcement officers arrived and found the baby dead, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors originally charged the parents with child abuse resulting in death and distribution of a controlled substance in March, but the initial cases have been dropped in light of the grand jury’s indictment, according to the district attorney’s news release.
Jennifer Chu, a Colorado public defender who is representing the parents, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.