Ninth District Attorney Aramis Ayala Friday responded to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order taking the Nicole Montalvo case from her office and transferring it to the Fifth District’s Brad King.

Like her press conference outside the Osceola County Courthouse two weeks ago, Ayala said she needed the chance to set things straight — again.

“The executive order I received is riddled with inaccurate facts, and I feel the need to correct them,” she said. “The facts surrounding Nicole Montalvo’s death are absolutely horrendous, but our standard of proof doesn’t change. The attorneys in my office diligently have been working with the info provided by sheriff’s office. It is my hope that once the investigation is completed, murder charges will be placed on those responsible for this crime.”

Among her counterclaims to DeSantis:

“I personally spoke with the statewide prosecution office. They did not know results of DNA testing or what the medical examiner’s report stated, and Attorney General (Ashely Moody) offered a ‘preliminary’ opinion charges could be filed.”

She addressed the perception of Sheriff Russ Gibson’s belief that her opposition to the death penalty interfered with the pursuit of homicide charges.

“Sheriff Gibson obviously doesn’t pay attention to cases pending in his county. My office currently has 3 death penalty cases pended in Osceola County, all investigated by the Sheriff and evaluated by my administration. It is troubling that the Sheriff either has no idea these cases brought forth by his administration are pending or is aware I’m currently prosecuting three death penalty cases and has made the intentional decision to mislead our governor.”

The executive order, Ayala said, also noted Gibson believed she was hindering the collection of evidence.
“This could not be further from the truth. We have encouraged and requested the Sheriff’s Office due additional investigation nearly every single week. The prosecutors in my office have been working on this case every single day. Public records will reflect the same.”

Ayala also noted DeSantis has reached out to Gibson and Montalvo’s family, but not her or her or her office, and that her rebuttals should not be seen as a war of words.

“This is not a feud or a spat, but a response to an extremely difficult decision made by my office even as they continue to fight for justice, day by day,” she said.