Trial underway in slaying of St. Cloud mother Nicole Montalvo

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — The trial is underway for a father and son accused of killing Osceola County mother Nicole Montalvo. Click here to watch live resuming at 1 p.m.

Montalvo was the estranged wife of one of the defendants, Christopher Otero-Rivera. Prosecutors believe Otero-Rivera and his father, Angel Rivera, murdered Montalvo.

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Her remains were found buried on the Rivera family property.

On Monday, Rivera’s wife Wanda took the stand testifying that both Rivera and her son Otero-Rivera were there when an excavator was delivered to the family property a couple of days before Nicole disappeared, and she couldn’t account for what they were doing with it while she was away at work.

Wanda testified when she spoke with Nicole the day she was last seen alive, Nicole never mentioned plans to go away. Her husband Angel claimed he received a text message from Nicole saying she was leaving town.

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It’s a message prosecutors believe he sent from Nicole’s phone after she was already dead.

Wanda also testified that Angel would get angry when Nicole kept her son Elijah away during family celebrations.

On Monday afternoon, the jury also heard from a jailhouse informant who testified that Angel and Christopher helped him get out of jail so he could plant drugs on Nicole to try to get custody of Elijah.

Some of the suspects’ neighbors took the stand last week. One testified they saw some unusual activity, specifically digging on a property near where the suspects lived.

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Another specifically said he saw Rivera driving an excavator and turning into that property.

Otero-Rivera’s brother Nicholas Rivera, who is serving time for child pornography, testified against his brother and father on Wednesday and explained he saw his father washing a cart prosecutors say had Montalvo’s DNA.

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Prosecutors also showed surveillance video of what they believe is Angel Rivera’s truck heading to and from the same area where Montalvo’s car was found after she disappeared.

Defense for Angel Rivera asked him if other people drove that truck like his mom and brother. Nicholas Rivera said yes, he believed so.

Prosecutor Ryan Williams told jurors during his opening statement that Montalvo went to the five-acre Rivera family property in October 2019 and never left. Williams stated that the evidence will show the two men murdered Montalvo in order to get custody of the couple’s son, Elijah.

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During the defense’s opening statements on Tuesday, the son’s attorney pointed the finger at his father, stating that she didn’t think there was enough evidence to prove that Christopher Otero-Rivera had anything to do with the murder, and said any of the credible evidence all points to his father, Angel Rivera.

“Everybody was afraid of Angel Rivera, that includes his wife Wanda and his two sons,” said defense attorney Kimberly LaSure.

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Angela Rivera’s attorney decided not to address what was said or make any opening statements.

Prosecutors then began presenting evidence against Otero-Rivera and his father, Angel.

The trial resumed at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.