Carlos Montalvo-Rivera, 52, of Lancaster was charged last week with homicide and arson in the death of 30-year-old Olga Sanchez-Reyes. Authorities allege that he deliberately set the family's home on fire in December 2010. The couple's three children, ages 8, 9 and 13, were rescued from the roof by neighbors, but the 9-year-old had severe arm burns and the 8-year-old fell and fractured her arm.
Montalvo-Rivera's son, Carlos Xavier Montalvo, 22, who was 13 at the time of the fire, posted a video on Facebook saying his father treated his mother "like a queen."
"He's not a monster," Montalvo said in Thursday's video. "In my eyes, he was never that. Never will be."
He told LNP newspaper in an email that his father "was and has been the greatest father he could be," and "never not once gave up on us." He said "I love him to death and I hope he knows that," vowing that he and his sisters "are going to stick by him till the end."
Authorities allege that Montalvo-Rivera - who also faces charges of attempted homicide, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and child endangerment - changed his story about the fatal fire at least three times over the years.
Police say he said an unknown intruder knocked him unconscious and tied him up before pouring gas onto his wife and setting her afire in the master bedroom. A neighbor, however, told police that he saw Montalvo-Rivera trying to climb up the burning house from a foot alley and his hands were free. Investigators said he gave varying accounts about how he was bound and when he got free.
"First thing's first, it's hard to lose a parent," Carlos Xavier Montalvo said in the live video. "Second thing is to lose both of them at one time."
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