ST. CLOUD, Fla. - In a surprise announcement Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis reassigned the murder case of St. Cloud mother Nicole Montalvo to State Attorney Brad King of the Fifth Judicial Circuit, taking it away Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala.
Montalvo was murdered in October of 2019 and charges have yet to be filed despite an investigation that has been completed.
“After review by my office and consultation with the Montalvo family, today I am issuing an executive reassignment of the Nicole Montalvo murder case to State Attorney Brad King of the Fifth Judicial Circuit,” said Governor DeSantis.
“Under the current circumstances, I believe moving the case under State Attorney King’s jurisdiction provides the best chance for the Montalvo family to receive the justice they deserve.”
FOX 35 News had obtained a letter that Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis, alerting him to a dispute between the Osceola County Sheriff's Office and the State Attorney for Ninth Circuit Court concerning the investigation into the death of Nicole Montalvo.
Montalvo's estranged husband, Christopher Otero-Rivera and his father, Angel Rivera, are accused of dismembering the St. Cloud mother's body and then renting an excavator to bury her. Rivera and Otero-Rivera were arrested by Osceola County deputies on first-degree murder charges, but they were never formally indicted for murder by the State Attorney’s Office.
In Moody's letter to the governor, she states that a dispute between State Attorney Aramis Ayala and Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson over the case appears to be personal.
"The Sheriff expressed concerns about the lack of charging decision and indicated that there was disagreement between his personnel and State Attorney Ayala's personnel about the case," Moody writes.
During a news conference on Friday, Ayala blasted Gibson and his agency's investigation into the brutal murder of Montalvo, saying the sheriff prematurely arrested Otero-Rivera and Rivera.
"I have personally met with him [Sheriff Gibson] and requested that he refrain from public comments that repeatedly misrepresent the truth about this case," she said. "He has to accept responsibility. It is my understanding, as we stand here today, the sheriff still does not know who killed Nicole Montalvo."
Ayala accused the sheriff of using this case to bolster his re-election campaign.
"It's been filled with falsehoods and self-fulfilling statements. I, on the other hand, don't have an upcoming election nor any reason for pandering for selfish gain at the expense of truth and justice."
Moody said the dispute between Sheriff Gibson and State Attorney Ayala is now public and appears acrimonious.
"Such acrimony is not conducive to the administration of fair and effective justice," she wrote.
Read more about the Nicole Montalvo case HERE.