- Hannah Winston Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Nicole Novak’s daughter, Grace, meant everything to her. With a history of arrests related to drugs, she wanted a fresh start for her baby and herself. She wanted to do it right, her friend Ambrosia Spivey said Thursday.
“She was a good person with a really big heart,” Spivey said. “And she was a good mother to her child. That’s something no one can take from her.”
That chance at a new life and a better future for her baby girl were cut short Wednesday when Hugo Steven Selva — her boyfriend and the 3-month-old baby’s father — fatally shot her, according to authorities. Selva then drove his car the wrong way on Interstate 95, crashing head-on into several cars until he eventually was shot and killed by a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy, leaving the infant parentless. Selva also has been linked to at least two other shootings across the county this week.
“(Novak) isn’t a bad person. Everyone has a past,” Spivey told The Post on Thursday evening. “She turned her life around for her daughter, Grace.”
Spivey said Novak lived with and helped to take care of her grandmother in Merritt Island in Brevard County, about a two-hour drive north from West Palm Beach. She said Selva also lived with them. Novak knew Selva from when she was younger, but they got close when she was out on a work-release program after one of her convictions, Spivey said. She believes they had been together since 2013.
According to court records, Novak was arrested six times between 2011 and 2012 —by Titusville police, Cocoa police, Melbourne police and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office — on charges ranging from drug possession to burglary and grand theft, according to records of the FDLE and the Florida Department of Corrections. She was imprisoned from January 2014 to May 2016.
Spivey said she’s known Novak for “well over five years” and they kept in touch over Facebook and over the phone. She said much of the time, they’d go to each other for advice. Novak told Spivey that there was both physical and psychological abuse in her relationship with Selva. She talked about leaving him on multiple occasions. Then Novak found out she was pregnant.
“She wanted to give up on life, but then she became a mother,” Spivey said. “She wanted Grace to have the childhood she didn’t have.”
She said she was always working, “trying to do good” and stay focused on her daughter. She wanted to make her relationship with Selva work to keep the family together.
Spivey hadn’t heard the news until a mutual friend of her and Novak posted something on Facebook about the crash and shootings in Palm Beach County.
“It’s just so sad. I have a 4-year-old daughter and the first thing I thought about was (Grace),” she said.
She said she’s not surprised about what happened necessarily, because of the couple’s history that she knew about, but said Novak “deserved better.”
“She liked to laugh a lot. She had great sarcasm,” she said. “If you knew her, you loved her. It’s just so sad.”