OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Florida’s attorney general shared her opinion on the prosecution of a case involving a missing St. Cloud mother who was later found dead, saying that the apparent feud between the Osceola County sheriff and the local state attorney could result in a “miscarriage of justice.”
The letter from Attorney General Ashley Moody comes hours after Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s news conference Friday afternoon during which she said that Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson should have waited to make arrests in connection with 33-year-old Nicole Montalvo’s death until the investigation was complete.
“You and your office can review that press conference in its entirety, but it is safe to say that the dispute between Sheriff Gibson and State Attorney Ayala is now public, personal, and appears to be acrimonious. Such acrimony is not conducive to the administration of fair and effective justice,” Moody wrote in a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Montalvo’s estranged husband, Christopher Otero-Rivera, and his father, Angel Rivera, are both facing charges but neither is accused of murder.
According to Moody, Gibson recently contacted her office because he was concerned that murder charges had not been filed. He also spoke of disagreements between his staff and officials at the state attorney’s office concerning the case.
The Office of Statewide Prosecution requested a meeting with Ayala in an attempt to help with the case and although a meeting was initially set, Ayala canceled it Friday morning, Moody said.
Now, Moody is asking that her office take over prosecuting the case.
“While there would be much work to be done and questions to answer, the Office of Statewide Prosecution’s preliminary opinion was that there are charges that could be filed against Rivera and Otero-Rivera,” the letter read.
Like Ayala, Moody expressed concerns that time is running out to file formal charges.
“In any event, the speedy trial timeline is running and I am concerned that the dispute and disagreement between the Sheriff and State Attorney, which now appears to be personal, could result in a miscarriage of justice,” Moody wrote.
Otero-Rivera and Rivera were arrested Oct. 25, 2019, the same day Montalvo’s dismembered body was found buried on the family’s property, according to authorities.
Deputies have not released details concerning her cause of death or who is accused of killing her.
Ayala’s news conference Friday afternoon came directly after a judge ordered that Rivera’s bond be revoked, just days after he was released from jail. A judge found that he violated his terms of release when he drove to the home where Montalvo’s remains were reportedly found.
He’s facing charges of abuse of a human body and failure to report a death.
While Otero-Rivera is accused of murder, the state attorney’s office has not yet filed a charging affidavit to make it official.
“Had the sheriff followed the advice and listened to my office, we would have an unlimited amount of time to gather sufficient evidence for a successful prosecution and conviction which is exactly what Nicole and her family deserves,” Ayala said. “Without an arrest, speedy trial is not an issue there is no statute of limitations in this case.”
Friday evening, Gibson responded to Ayala’s allegations and Moody’s letter.
Read Moody’s letter in its entirety below.