OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Opening statements were presented Tuesday in the trial for a man and his father, both of whom are accused of murder in the 2019 slaying and dismemberment of Nicole Montalvo.
A jury was seated Monday night in the trial for Christopher Otero-Rivera and his father, Angel Rivera, who were charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Otero-Rivera’s estranged wife in Osceola County.
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 property owned by the Riveras. Otero-Rivera and Montalvo had a son together, but they were separated at the time of her death.
After openings, the state led jurors through the events that they say led to Montalvo’s disappearance and death.
Prosecutors said Montalvo was going through a divorce with Otero-Rivera and had dropped their son off at her father-in-law’s home. Her remains were later found on an adjacent property, prosecutors said.
The state said both men killed Montalvo and dismembered her body.
In court Tuesday, the father and son were represented by separate attorneys.
The defense for Otero-Rivera said the state’s evidence is circumstantial and pointed the finger at their client’s father.
“He was unquestionably the boss of the Rivera family,” a defense attorney said. “He controlled things. He manipulated things.”
Rivera’s attorney, meanwhile, did not offer an opening statement.
The state began calling witnesses later on Tuesday.
Nicole Montalvo’s son’s teacher Crystal Bunn testified that Montalvo missed a school meeting for her 8-year-old son in October 2019 before she was reported missing.
“It wasn’t like her not to reach out,” said Bunn.
She said in fact the boy’s grandfather, Angel Rivera picked up Montalvo’s son that day and had his own suspicions about Montalvo’s disappearance.
“That he wasn’t sure where she was. He had felt like she was having interactions with other men, that she could be out with one of them, that she hasn’t been home in a while,” said Bunn.
An FDLE cellphone records expert testified there were a few abnormal calls made by Montalvo’s cell phone around the time in question when she was reported missing.
Angel Rivera’s attorney did not offer an opening statement in court Monday, but during cross examination he defended his client in court.
“It wasn’t uncommon for Angel to pick him up right?” he said, referring to his grandson.
The first day of trial wrapped up around 5 p.m.
On Wednesday, the state will begin calling more witnesses at 9 a.m.