OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – State Attorney Aramis Ayala pushed back against the Osceola County sheriff Friday in response to questions about why murder charges have not been officially filed against a man and his son accused of killing a 33-year-old mother in October.
Angel Rivera and his son, Christoper Otero-Rivera, were arrested in October in connection with Nicole Montalvo’s death, but neither has been formally charged with murder. The remarks happened about an hour after Angel Rivera’s bond was revoked.
Ayala held a news conference on Friday she said was prompted by a call from the Office of Statewide Prosecution.
[Watch the state attorney’s full remarks at the top of this story]
She said she received a call Thursday from the state office to ask if she needed help prosecuting this case.
“My heart goes out to those who have been impacted by Nicole’s death," Ayala said. "Her legacy, nor you, should have to endure shenanigans that lack truth and dignity.”
Ayala took aim at several statements made by Sheriff Russ Gibson throughout the course of the investigation.
“On several occasions, he (the sheriff) has offered facts that are simply not true,” Ayala said. “He has made conclusions that are in direct conflict with the evidence or significant lack thereof.”
Ayala said she met with the sheriff and asked him to refrain from making public comments.
“I will no longer expose my office and my homicide team to blame and lies,” Ayala said.
This situation is and has been frustrating and it evokes emotion that makes people vulnerable sadly that vulnerability has not been protected. Instead, it has been filled with falsehoods and self-fulfilling statements. I, on the other hand, don’t have an upcoming election nor any interest in pandering for selfish gain at the expense of truth and justice."
Ayala explained that her office has done everything possible to bring Montalvo’s killer to justice.
“My office has been involved and invested in the case since the very beginning including contacting the sheriff’s office to notify them when miss Montalvo went missing,” she said. "
According to Ayala after speaking with attorneys, no arrests were to be made during the investigation.
“We advised the sheriff against arresting because the moment an arrest occurs our time is limited to bring the killer to justice,” Ayala said.
Without an arrest, there are no time constraints for prosecutors to file charges.
“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.”
The sheriff blatantly ignored our advice not to arrest in this case, instead prior to being able to provide admissible evidence regarding the manner of death and who actually killed Nicole Montalvo which are both required to file charges and to prosecute."
Ayala said she would not address details of the investigation or when official charges would be filed.
“He (the sheriff) chose to go on television to say that he was going to ask for the death penalty in this case. Not only was it out of order it was disingenuous,” Ayala said. “It would have been more appropriate for the sheriff to concern himself with completing the investigation to prove guilt that is political capital related to the death penalty.”
The state attorney said the sheriff has to come forward and accept responsibility. According to Ayala, the sheriff still does not know who killed Montalvo.
Ayala pleaded for anyone with information regarding Montalvo’s death to step forward.
“I’m asking for you all to help the sheriff in this investigation and if you have any information related to the death of Nicole Montalvo please stand up, please speak out and please contact the sheriff’s office so that we can meet the guidelines and bring her killer to justice.”
Friday evening, Gibson issued a statement concerning Ayala’s comments and a letter from Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody requesting that the governor hand the case over to her office.
“From the beginning our 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. With the assistance of Senior State Representative Mike La Rosa, a meeting with Attorney General Moody’s staff was arranged. My detectives and I then traveled to Tallahassee to meet with her 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. My office will continue to work to ensure justice for Nicole Montalvo, her family, and the citizens of Osceola County,” Gibson said.