Officials at the state, region and local level are all now weighing in on the Nicole Montalvo murder case, the latest move with the Florida Attorney General requesting that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis review the case.
Florida Attorney General Ashely Moody, Orange-Osceola State Attorney Amaris Ayala and Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson have all become publicly prominent in the case, and the charges filed – and not filed – against main suspects Angel Rivera and Christopher Otero-Rivera, the victim’s husband and father-in-law.
The officials involved have gone to great lengths to fix the blame in the Montalvo case, as time continues to click on.
And since murder charges have not been filed against anyone, who will fix the problem, and bring a grieving family closer to justice and resolution?
“The victim in this situation is not just Nicole, it is also her son and her family,” Montalvo’s twin brother Steven said from the Osceola County Courthouse Friday. “It’s also this community that needs closure and needs to move forward.”
Friday was a busy day in the case.
Late in the morning, Rivera, who had posted bond and left jail earlier in the week when it was lowered to what was felt an appropriate level for charges for other than the murder directly, was remanded back to jail for violating his terms of release. Prosecutors stated he drove to his property on Hixon Avenue in St. Cloud – where some of Montalvo’s remains were found – and making false statements about where he would work and live on his release. Circuit Judge Keith Carsten, who ordered the bond cut in half last week, agreed with the state’s assertion and revoked bond, a move met with applause from Montalvo’s family and friends.
Right after that hearing, Ayala pointedly addressed the media and public about the backlash she’d received from the Osceola Sheriff’s Office, who arrested Rivera and Otero-Rivera on murder charges – against the wishes of the State’s Attorney office, she said.
“The moment an arrest occurs, our time is limited. Without arrest, speedy trial is not an issue … there’s no statute of limitations,” she said. “If the Sheriff had followed our advice we would have had sufficient time for a successful prosecution and conviction, which is what Nicole and her family deserves.
“Florida law clearly distinguishes between the guilt and penalty phases. We are required by law to complete the penalty phase first. As we stand here, the Sheriff doesn’t know who killed Nicole … I refuse to be a part of a spectacle that has been created by the Sheriff. My office can’t manufacture results.”
With the ball in his court, Gibson arranged a meeting with Attorney General Ashely Moody and her staff, according to a statement released in response that stressed the Sheriff’s Office’s goal is “ to bring justice to Nicole Montalvo, her family and the citizens of Osceola County.
“After it became apparent that the State Attorney’s Office was not interested in pursuing homicide charges, my office began exploring ways to get a second opinion. My detectives and I traveled to Tallahassee to meet with (Moody’s) staff. We then had a follow up meeting here in Osceola in which we presented our case. I would like to personally thank Attorney General Moody and her staff for showing commitment to the pursuit of justice by taking the time to review this case. After watching the press conference by State Attorney Ayala this morning, I believe that justice can only be achieved in this case if it is given to the Office of Statewide Prosecution.”
The result of the meeting between Moody’s and Gibson’s staffs was a letter, sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis from Moody, stating the situation between the Sheriff and State Attorney “seems to be escalating in a manner that is not conducive to the ends of justice.”
Moody’s letter also stated her office believes charges could be filed against the Riveras, but the dispute arisen between Ayala’s and Gibson’s offices “could result in a miscarriage of justice.”
Meanwhile, next week will mark the three-month anniversary of Montalvo’s disappearance and the discovery of her remains on property owned by Rivera.