Charges dropped against mother-in-law in connection to Nicole Montalvo’s death

Prosecutors dropped tampering with evidence, accessory after the fact to first-degree murder

Osceola Sheriff awaiting governor's decision on Nicole Montalvo case

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – State prosecutors have dropped charges against Nicole Montalvo’s mother-in-law, Wanda Rivera, in connection to the St. Cloud woman’s death and dismemberment, court records show.

Montalvo, 33, was reported missing in October 2019 after she failed to pick up her 8-year-old son from school. Her dismembered remains were later found buried on the property where her estranged husband and his parents lived on Hixon Avenue in St. Cloud. Both Montalvo’s husband, Christopher Otero-Rivera, and his father, Angel Luis Rivera, are in jail awaiting trial for her murder.

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Otero-Rivera’s mother, Wanda Rivera, was also arrested on charges of tampering with physical evidence, accessory after the fact to a felony of the first-degree and providing false information to law enforcement during an investigation. But court records show the charges have now been dropped.

According to a request from the state, prosecutors have received new evidence creating reasonable doubt as to the charges against Wanda Rivera. State prosecutors say a new cellphone analysis shows Otero-Rivera and Angel Rivera moved Nicole Montalvo’s vehicle from their property on Oct. 22.

Previously, prosecutors suspected that Wanda Rivera also helped move her daughter-in-law’s Honda, but “this new evidence is inconsistent with the evidence upon which the charges were filed that supported the state’s belief Wanda Rivera assisted Angel Rivers in removing the vehicle,” according to the Nolle Prosequi filing submitted March 5.

While not conclusive as to how or exactly when the vehicle was removed, the new cellphone evidence creates reasonable doubt as to Wanda Rivera’s guilt and prosecutors were ethically obligated to dismiss the charges.

Wanda Rivera was arrested and posted $20,000 bail on May 28, 2020, according to the Osceola County Jail.

Otero-Rivera and Angel Rivera are awaiting trial, which has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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