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State Attorney: Osceola sheriff rushed Nicole Montalvo death investigation to better his re-election chances

In letter to governor Ayala accuses sheriff of slander, jeopardizing murder investigation

Left to right: Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala, Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson
Left to right: Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala, Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson (WKMG)

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – In a letter penned to Gov. Ron DeSantis, State Attorney Aramis Ayala said Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson jeopardized the investigation into the death of Nicole Montalvo, and slandered her name to bolster his re-election campaign.

The letter was sent to the governor a day before Ayala’s office released a slew of evidence from the Montalvo death investigation in a public records request to the media.

The letter and the cache of evidence come months after Montalvo’s remains were found on a property owned by her in-laws days after she was reported missing.

Those documents included hundreds of files detailing evidence in the case of the slain 33-year-old St. Cloud mother, including crime scene photos showing the locations where her dismembered body was found. The evidence did not indicate a cause of death.

Despite multiple requests Ayala said her office made that deputies hold off on any arrests in the case, the sheriff’s office arrested Montalvo’s estranged husband, Christopher Otero-Rivera, and his father, Angel Rivera, in connection with the case. Neither is facing murder charges.

Ayala petitioned in January for Montalvo’s death investigation to removed from the sheriff’s discretion and be transferred to her office. The governor approved this move, but instead gave the investigation to the office of State Attorney Brad King.

[RELATED: Suspect in missing St. Cloud mom’s death incriminated son in jailhouse letter | Deputies ‘won’t leave any stone unturned’ in search for missing St. Cloud woman | Sheriff pushes for murder charges to be filed in Osceola mother’s death]

In her letter, Ayala claimed her office was bypassed due to her opposition of the death penalty, and due to “meritless” accusations made against her by the sheriff.

In three key points, Ayala said Gibson was responsible for jeopardizing the investigation into Montalvo’s death with an incomplete investigation precluded by his own political ambitions.

Ayala said her office made multiple requests that deputies not make any arrests in the case, but both the husband and father-in-law of Montalvo have been arrested, although neither were charged with her murder.

Her letter continued that during her tenure as State Attorney, she has death with misogyny, racism and opposition as both the first African American elected to the position and as the first woman in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida.

In closing, Ayala said that neither the governor nor the sheriff have to like or agree with her, but that she will not sit back silently as she is blamed with chaos.

Read Ayala’s letter below:


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