Estranged husband of slain St. Cloud mother wants charge dropped

Chrisopher-Otero Rivera’s attorneys file motion

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. (WKMG 2019)

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – A St. Cloud man accused of killing his estranged wife is asking a judge to throw out one of the criminal charges against him.

Christopher Otero-Rivera has not been formally charged with the murder of Nicole Montalvo, despite the Osceola County sheriff claiming he is responsible for her death.

As prosecutors were trying to build a murder case against Otero-Rivera, the state attorney charged him with failing to report Montalvo’s death, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

Otero-Rivera filed a motion Tuesday asking a judge to discharge him from that particular crime.

According to the motion, prosecutors missed a 90-day deadline to bring him to trial on the misdemeanor charge.

Hundreds of files detailing evidence in the case of slain St. Cloud mother Nicole Montalvo were released Wednesday, including crime scene photos showing the locations where her dismembered body was found.

Osceola County sheriff’s deputies arrested Otero-Rivera on Oct. 27, 2019 in connection with Montalvo’s murder.

However, Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala never filed formal murder charges against the suspect. She claims her prosecutors did not yet have enough evidence to prove his guilt to a jury.

[RELATED: ‘Chris will have to do some time:’ Suspect in missing St. Cloud mom’s death incriminated son in jailhouse letter | Murder suspects’ family member told detectives he saw St. Cloud mother’s motionless body]

Ayala filed the misdemeanor charge against Otero-Rivera on December 16.

In his motion seeking a discharge, Otero-Rivera cites a state law requiring prosecutors to bring a misdemeanor case to trial within 90 days unless the defendant asks for an extension.

Otero-Rivera believes that 90-day clock began on Oct. 27, the day he was arrested for Montalvo’s murder, according to the motion.

He argues the state’s deadline to prosecute him on the misdemeanor charge expired Jan. 25.

A judge did not immediately indicate whether Otero-Rivera’s motion would be granted or if a hearing would be scheduled to discuss the matter.

The estranged husband of a slain Osceola County woman faced a judge Tuesday after sheriff’s officials filed a new charge against him.

Last month Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order removing the murder case from Ayala’s office and reassigning it to neighboring State Attorney Brad King.

Under Florida law, prosecutors must be ready to bring a murder case to trial withing 175 days of a suspect’s arrest.

If Otero-Rivera is not formally charged with murder by April, he could potentially ask a judge to discharge him from that crime as well.

About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter Mike DeForest has been covering Central Florida news for more than two decades.