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A Florida juror is being replaced after falling asleep during testimony this week in the trial of a father and son accused in the horrifying 2019 death and dismemberment of 33-year-old Nicole Montalvo.
The sleepy juror was kicked off of the murder trial of Christopher Otero-Rivera, 33, and his father, Angel Luis Rivera, 64, on Tuesday after prosecutors expressed concerns that he had missed testimony against the defendants.
"The nature of these lapses leads us to believe he has missed significant testimony," News13 reporter Stephanie Bechara reported prosecutors said.
The judge in the trial, which is taking place in Osceola County in central Florida, said that he had observed the same individual, Juror 16, snoozing in the jury box on Monday.
Otero-Rivera and Rivera are both facing second-degree murder charges.
Montalvo's body was discovered in October 2019 on property owned by her Otero-Rivera's parents St. Cloud, Florida. Montalvo had recently filed for divorce from Otero-Rivera, after years of documented allegations of abuse against her.
Prosecutors are arguing that the men killed Montalvo to ensure her Otero-Rivera would gain custody of their son, who is now 9 years old.
The local sheriff described the condition of Montalvo’s body, which was said to have been “disassembled,” as the worst he had ever seen in his 32-year career.
“When this autopsy is done, people are going to be horrified,” Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson told Fox News at the time.
Testifying for the prosecution last week, the local medical examiner said that some of Montalvo’s bone fragments appeared to have gone through a wood chipper, WFTV’s Jeff Deal reported.
Charges that 61-year-old Wanda Rivera, Otero-Rivera's mother and Otero's wife, was involved in covering up Montalvo’s death were dropped last month. This week, she told the court she’d learned through the news reports that Montalvo’s remains were found on the property.
Investigators have said that they believe Montalvo’s death was a violent end to an abusive marriage. In 2016, she filed for a restraining order against Otero-Rivera after she said he “smacked” her across the face and dragged her by her hair into the couple’s bedroom, according to court records obtained by The Orlando Sentinel.
In 2018, Montalvo was kidnapped and assaulted by her husband and another woman. She told investigators she’d received a text from Otero-Rivera telling her that his truck battery died and he needed a ride. When she arrived, the woman ripped her out of the car and threw her to the ground, according to the affidavit. Otero-Rivera then climbed on top of her, tried to stuff a piece of cloth in her mouth, slapped her repeatedly, and tried to break her neck, according to court records.
The pair eventually released Montalvo telling her that if she told the police, she’d be killed. Otero-Rivera pleaded no contest to hindering a witness’ ability to communicate with law enforcement, unlawful possession of a credit or debit card and battery in the incident, the Sentinel reported. He served eight months behind bars and was sentenced to two years of supervised probation.
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