KISSIMMEE, Fla. – After deliberating for less than two hours, a jury on Wednesday found Angel Rivera and his son, Christopher Otera-Rivera, guilty of killing and dismembering Nicole Montalvo in 2019.
Christopher Otero-Rivera and Angel Rivera were both found guilty of second-degree murder, abuse of a dead human body and tampering with physical evidence in the death of Nicole Montalvo, Otero-Rivera’s estranged wife.
The verdict was read at about 6:20 p.m. Wednesday. Sentencing will take place at a later date. Prosecutor Ryan Williams said both men are eligible for life in prison, which will likely be his recommendation.
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Nicole 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 Nicole Montalvo had a son together, but they were separated at the time of her death.
Jury instructions were read by the judge late Wednesday morning before he issued a lunch recess from 11:22 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., when closing arguments began.
The prosecution said during closing arguments that the evidence proved the two men were guilty while the defense said that if Nicole Montalvo had been murdered on the Riveras’ property on Hixon Avenue in St. Cloud, more blood would have been found.
After closing arguments, the jury was dismissed at about 4:30 p.m. to begin deliberating.
The Montalvo family was in the courtroom Wednesday and shed tears as the verdict was read. While they’re still grieving, they said they’re happy with the outcome.
“Well, justice was served today. Our sister, my sister, Nicole is still gone. Her son has still lost his mother. So, I don’t have her,” Eddie Montalvo said.
The family has been raising the boy, who they said has been incredibly strong through since his mother’s death.
Steven Montalvo thanked the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, the state attorney’s office, the governor and many other members of the community who supported him and his family during the investigation, the arrest of the Riveras and the trial.
“We understand that at the end of the day no matter the verdict, when we go home Nicole won’t be there, and the lives and families and a community have been devastated and altered forever and that’s the ultimate cost of this. And that’s not unnoticed by us, we’re going to bear this burden and this pain for the rest of our lives and we realized that’s probably the most painful part of this. At the same time, we couldn’t be more thrilled with the verdict today, we finally feel like there’s some accountability, it may not be full justice because Nicole’s not with us but there is accountability for her death,” Steven Montalvo said.
While Williams was also glad the jury returned a guilty verdict, especially when charges were so hard to come by in the case, he still feels the system let Nicole Montalvo down.
“I legitimately feel bad because I feel like we, collectively, let her down. She’s not the only one, Nicole’s not the only one who’s been let down but there were signs, and a lot of people, including the law enforcement overlook,” Williams said.
Eddie Montalvo also urged those listening to look for the signs of domestic violence and help those who may be in need.
“Just know that there is help and there are people who will continue to fight for you. We will continue to support and advocate for you so that you never have to go through or endure what my sister had to endure through. Love should not hurt and we should all work together in actively spreading that message,” Eddie Montalvo said.
The state rested its case Tuesday, as did the defense, which only called one witness to the stand.
Before the trial resumed Tuesday, the judge dismissed a juror who he said was found to be sleeping on multiple occasions during the proceedings. The judge said Juror No. 16 was dismissed from the case and was replaced by an alternate juror.
A former jail mate of Otero-Rivera testified Tuesday, saying Otero-Rivera wanted to kill Nicole Montalvo and mentioned using a car bomb. A second jail mate was also called to testify and said Otero-Rivera had spoken about getting out of jail and killing Nicole Montalvo.
Jurors also heard from a neighbor who said he lives across from the Rivera property. The neighbor said Angel Rivera offered him $10,000 to kill Nicole Montalvo.
After the state rested, Otero-Rivera and his father both said they would not take the stand.
The defense only called one witness, Wanda Rivera, the wife of Angel Rivera and mother of Otero-Rivera.