LANCASTER, Pa. (TCD) -- A 55-year-old man will spend the rest of his life behind bars for killing his wife and setting his family home on fire while his children were inside in 2010.
On June 21, the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office announced that Judge Dennis Reinaker sentenced Carlos Montalvo-Rivera to a mandatory life imprisonment for first-degree murder plus an additional 20 to 40 years. He’ll also have to pay $116,975.28 in restitution. A Lancaster County jury convicted Montalvo-Rivera of first-degree murder, arson, risking catastrophe, and three counts of attempted criminal homicide in April following a three-week trial.
On the night of Dec. 6, 2010, the District Attorney’s Office said Montalvo-Rivera killed his wife, Olga Sanchez, who was found dead in her home on North Plum Street.
Montalvo-Rivera reportedly poured gasoline on the stairs leading up to his wife’s bedroom and set the home on fire while his three children were on the third floor. The kids were able to escape the home through a window, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
During testimony, Dr. Wayne Ross, a forensic pathology expert, said Sanchez died by asphyxia and smoke inhalation but was alive when the fire initially started.
After setting the home on fire, Montalvo-Rivera escaped the home through a first-floor door and tied himself up to "cover his tracks and prove his innocence."
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Montalvo-Rivera said home intruders were responsible for setting the home on fire and killing his wife "out of retaliation for the victim’s brother, who had cooperated with the DEA" regarding another unrelated case.
The District Attorney’s Office said Montalvo-Rivera told police he "awoke to hear arguing between his wife and an unknown male with a 'scorpion tattoo' on his neck."
Montalvo-Rivera reportedly said the intruders knocked him unconscious and tied him up, but he was able to jump out a second-floor window. However, a neighbor allegedly saw Montalvo-Rivera without his hands tied and helped him as he was trying to reach the window he said he had jumped out of. Additionally, the District Attorney’s Office said medical experts didn’t find any injuries in Montalvo-Rivera’s CT scan results, so he was likely not knocked unconscious.
Prosecutors argued Montalvo-Rivera tied himself up after exiting the burning home.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Montalvo-Rivera initially told police he and Sanchez had a "happy marriage." He reportedly changed his story and said they were experiencing marital issues, and he had moved out weeks leading up to the fire.
Reinaker addressed Montalvo-Rivera before handing down his sentence and said, "The lame story you concocted and continued to hold on to simply didn’t hold any water. The jury didn’t believe you, and I think that’s how it should be."