The long-awaited trial of Katherine Magbanua ended with convictions for first-degree murder, solicitation to commit murder, and conspiracy to commit murder. The conviction marks the third — and probably not the last — in the 2014 killing of FSU law professor Dan Markel.
The gunmen who shot and killed Markel in his driveway were captured in 2016. One, Luis Rivera, pleaded guilty, saying he was hired to perform the murder because “the lady wants her two kids back.” Prosecutors believe the lady in this equation is Markel’s ex-wife Wendi Adelson, who would eventually take the children to South Florida after Markel’s death. The critical link for investigators is Magbanua, who was dating Wendi Adelson’s brother Charlie at the time of the slaying and whose ex-boyfriend, Sigfredo Garcia, was the other gunman.
Magbanua, who survived a mistrial in her joint trial with Garcia before Friday’s verdict, brings prosecutors another step closer to the Adelson family. Authorities arrested Charlie Adelson in April on the strength of technological advances that allowed them to enhance audio of a conversation between Magbanua and Adelson in the wake of the murder. At the time, Adelson’s attorney, David Oscar Markus, suggested Charlie’s arrest was a sign of desperation. Since then, Markus has withdrawn from the case, so… maybe it’s Adelson showing some signs of desperation.
What’s certain is that whoever was “up the chain” from Magbanua feels the walls closing in.
Because the prospect of sentencing after losing a murder case has a way of loosening tongues.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.