Judge: State failed to file murder charge against man accused of killing estranged wife

Christopher Otero-Rivera being held without bond on other charges

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – A man accused of killing his estranged wife could be released from jail in that case after a judge ruled Tuesday that the state missed the deadline to file an affidavit on the murder charge.

Christopher Otero-Rivera was arrested on murder charges in October in connection with the death of Nicole Montalvo. According to investigators, her dismembered body was found on the property Rivera lived on with his parents.

Otera-Rivera’s court hearing lasted about two minutes on Tuesday. Montalvo’s supporters rushed out of the courtroom in tears after the judge announced his decision.

Those who knew Nicole Montalvo react in an Osceola County courtroom on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 after a judge ruled that her accused killer could be released.

“The state having not filed the charging document within the time period provided by the rules of criminal procedure ... the court has no option under law but to release the defendant on his own recognizance as to this case,” the judge said.

The state presented no evidence.

Otera-Rivera is being held without bond on charges of violation of probation and violation of an injunction, according to an Osceola County Jail spokeswoman.

Rivera’s father, Angel, and his mother, Wanda, have both been charged in connection with Montalvo’s murder, as well.

Christopher Otero-Rivera speaking with his lawyer on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 after a judge determined the state did not have enough evidence to continue holding him for his estranged wife's murder. Rivera remains in custody on probation violation charges.

Rivera’s attorney asked a judge to free her client because the Office of the State Attorney did not officially charge Rivera with Montalvo’s murder within the 21 days she said is required by law.

A spokeswoman for the Office of the State Attorney said prosecutors have 21 days to file charges, and if none are filed, prosecutors are afforded a maximum of 180 days.

"Why would the state not be presenting evidence to keep this person in custody?" asked News 6 Legal Analyst Steven Kramer.

He said it could actually be part of the prosecution’s strategy.

"You can envision a scenario where the state wants to keep some of their cards close. They have an ongoing investigation, and they’re trying to figure out who are the co-conspirators in this murder? Are there people outside this family that helped out? " he said.

The Office of the State Attorney released a statement after Tuesday’s ruling.

“The State Attorney’s Office is aware of our statutory obligations. We have not missed any deadline within which we could have legally proceeded. Our prosecutors will continue to work with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office as this open and active investigation continues. Please be mindful that Christopher Otero-Rivera is still being held on other charges,” the statement read.

About the Authors: