Husband and father are sentenced to life in prison for murdering and dismembering an estranged woman
A Florida judge on Wednesday sentenced a man and his father to life in prison for brutally murdering and mutilating the younger man’s estranged wife during a custody battle in 2019.
Jurors in April found Christopher Otero-Rivera and his father, Angel Luis Rivera, guilty of second-degree murder, abusing a body and tampering with evidence in the murder of Nicole Montalvo.
Montalvo, 35, disappeared on Oct. 21, 2019, after dropping off the couple’s 8-year-old son at the Rivera home in St. Cloud, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Investigators later found some of Montalvo’s remains in the house.
Christopher Otero-Rivera (pictured in orange, right) and his father, Angel Luis Rivera (left), were sentenced Wednesday in Florida to life imprisonment, plus 20 years each, for the murder of Nicole Montalvo
Otero-Rivera (left) and his father (right) were convicted in April of second-degree murder, abusing a body and tampering with evidence
Montalvo, 35, disappeared on October 21, 2019, after dropping off the couple’s 8-year-old son at the Rivera home in St Cloud, Florida
“I cannot ignore the brutality of your efforts to cover up that crime and the pain it brought to the family in their desperate search,” Judge Keith Carsten told the suspects on Wednesday, as reported by Orlando Sentinel.
The defense asked for a lenient sentence of 23 years to life, but prosecutor Ryan Williams argued for the harshest possible sentence.
“If this crime doesn’t deserve life in prison, then what does?” he asked.
Before the verdict was handed down, Montalvo’s family made emotional victim statements, detailing the devastating impact her murder had on her loved ones.
Christina Montalvo, Nicole’s sister, spoke first, telling the court that her grieving process was “endless.”
“When people ask me what happened to Nicole, I’ve always said she died from domestic violence,” Christina said. “It hurts me physically to say that my sister was murdered by her estranged husband…and his father.”
Nicole’s twin brother, Edward Montalvo, said he and his family were aware of the constant domestic violence his sister suffered and had previously begged her to leave Otero-Rivera, only to have her “slaughtered and thrown away as if she were there.” never mattered’. reported Click on Orlando.
Victim’s relatives are seen hugging after hearing the guilty verdicts in April
On Wednesday, members of Montalvo’s family told reporters that ‘justice had been served’
Steven Montalvo, Nicole’s younger brother, said ‘a little piece of us died that day with Nicole, and we feel it every day’
During the trial, prosecutors said Otero-Rivera and Rivera wanted Montalvo to “disappear” so they could gain custody of her son, Elijah.
In 2018, Otero-Rivera was charged with kidnapping and brutally beating his wife, according to court records. She filed for divorce while he was in prison, claiming to have been abusive for years.
Prosecutors said the father and son hatched a plan to plant drugs on Montalvo to make her lose custody of the boy. And two people testified at the trial that Angel Rivera offered them money to kill his daughter-in-law.
When she disappeared, her father-in-law told investigators that Montalvo had texted him and his wife to take care of their grandson for a few days.
Deputies have recovered Montalvo’s bodies on two properties related to the Rivera family in the St. Cloud, Florida area.
According to documents, Rivera and his son used an excavator to bury Montalvo’s remains in two to five feet of earth.
Otero-Rivera (left) and Angel Rivera (right) are pictured in their mugshots after their 2019 arrests
Detectives suspected someone else had sent the text because Montalvo hadn’t told anyone she planned to go anywhere, according to court records.
Her body was later found burned, dismembered and buried on two of Rivera’s properties, prosecutors said.
During the murder trial of the father and son, a crime scene technician described the moment she followed tire tracks to a trailer, which turned out to contain human remains. WESH.
‘Immediately upon discovering meat, the fleshy material, there was a foul odor present. A very strong odor, and on top of that, flies came to the area,” said Emily Seda, a forensic investigator with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.
DNA from the meat was tested against DNA from Montalvo’s family and yielded a match.
Defense attorneys had argued that the evidence was “indirect,” arguing that if Montalvo had been murdered on Rivera’s property, more blood would have been found there.
The father and son blamed each other for Montalvo’s murder, court records show.
On Wednesday, Judge Carsten sentenced Otero-Rivera and his father to life in prison for the murders. He also imposed additional terms of 15 and five years respectively for abusing a body and tampering with evidence.
In 2018, Montalvo had her husband arrested on charges of kidnapping and domestic violence. Otero-Rivera ultimately pleaded no contest and was sentenced to probation
Edward Montalvo told reporters out of court that “justice had been served,” but noted that the outcome of the case, however satisfying for the family, will not bring his sister back.
“Nicole is still gone,” he said. “Her son has still lost his mother. So I don’t have her.’
His brother Steven repeated his words, saying in part: “We understand that at the end of the day, regardless of the verdict, Nicole won’t be there when we go home… At the same time, we couldn’t be more happy with today’s verdict, we finally feel there is some responsibility, it may not be full justice because Nicole is not with us, but there is responsibility for her death.”
The family said Nicole’s son is now being raised by his maternal grandparents.