Examiner: Nicole Montalvo’s mutilations ‘unusual’
Jennifer Nara said she has done autopsies on dismembered bodies during her 15-year career, but the former Orange-Osceola associate medical examiner told jurors Friday that the body of St. Cloud woman Nicole Montalvo was mutilated to a level she had never seen before.
Less than half of Montalvo’s remains were recovered by law enforcement who found them buried on properties belonging to her estranged husband’s family. The severed body parts, organs and tissue had been burned, some to the point of charring, Nara said.
“There were many portions of the bones ... that were not present,” she testified during the trial for Montalvo’s killing. “There are a lot of small, little fragments of them, almost like the bones had been put through a wood chipper.”
Nara said she enlisted the help of a forensic anthropologist in the “unusual” autopsy to help her identify the bone fragments. The medical examiner wasn’t able to determine how Montalvo died because of her body’s condition, but she listed the cause of death as “homicidal violence of unspecified means.”
Jurors have so far heard from more than 30 witnesses in the trial for Montalvo’s estranged husband, Christopher Otero-Rivera, and father-in-law, Angel Rivera, at the Osceola County Courthouse.
Both are charged with second-degree murder, abuse of a body and evidence tampering in Montalvo’s killing and dismembering. The father and son have
pleaded not guilty.
Montalvo went missing Oct. 21, 2019, after dropping off her 8-year-old son at the Rivera home on Hixon Avenue.
Christian Recio, manager at Rental World of Osceola, told jurors that Angel Rivera rented an excavator from the store by phone on Oct. 16. It was delivered to the Hixon Avenue property on Oct. 19 — two days before Montalvo went missing.
Prosecutors say the excavator was used to bury Montalvo’s remains at the Riveras’ Hixon Avenue and Henry J Avenue properties.
Two water bottles discovered on the excavator were tested for DNA, which was later matched to Angel Rivera, said Meredith McCaskill, a crime laboratory analyst with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Two former probation officers testified that Otero-Rivera was on house arrest and wearing an ankle monitor at the time of Montalvo’s killing. Ardranna Weatherspoon said Otero-Rivera asked Oct. 19 if the boundaries of his house arrest could be expanded so he could do yard work with his dad, but she did not grant his request.
Jurors also heard Friday about an October 2018 incident where Montalvo accused Otero-Rivera and his girlfriend Toni Rocker of kidnapping, beating and threatening to kill her.
Rocker was later acquitted by a jury for the incident, while Otero-Rivera pleaded no contest to lesser charges.
Montalvo was “crying” and “shaking” after the incident, with dry blood on her swollen face and a torn shirt, said Elaine Montalvo, her mother.
“She told me Chris and Toni had jumped her,” Elaine Montalvo said. “...
They were saying that they could kill her right then and there and nobody would know.”
During the beating, Otero-Rivera told his wife he would take away their shared son, Elaine Montalvo said.
Prosecutors say both Otero-Rivera and his father desired custody of the couple’s son.
Otero-Rivera’s defense attorneys, though, blamed his father for Montalvo’s killing and said Angel Rivera treated the couple’s son like a “possession.”
Prosecutors said they will present their final witnesses Monday and expect to rest their case.