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Murder Trial of Alleged Accomplice in FSU Law Professor Murder on Hold


The South Florida family whose daughter divorced a popular Florida State University tenured law professor before he was gunned down is now waiting for the outcome of the murder trial for one of the alledged suspects.

Katherine Magbanua was the girlfriend of Wendi Adelson’s brother and her baby daddy, Sigfredo Garcia, has been convicted of Markel’s murder.

State attorneys believe that Wendi’s brother, Charles Adelson, had his girlfriend set up the murder-for-hire. If she is convicted, then more arrest warrants could be issued for the Adelson family.

On October 1, 2016, police arrested Katherine Magbanua and charged her with murder.

The trials for Katherine Magbanua and Sigfredo Garcia were combined and took place in October 2019.

In the trial, prosecutors claimed that Charles Adelson had arranged to pay Magbanua, Luis Rivera and Garcia $100,000 to murder Markel so that Wendi Adelson could get full custody of Markel’s and Wendi Adelson’s two sons.

On October 4, 2016, Luis Rivera pled guilty to the charge of murder as part of a plea bargain in which he was sentenced to 19 years in prison, which would run concurrently with another sentence he was already serving.

Rivera had been jailed on unrelated federal charges since 2014; he had pled guilty in federal court in Fort Lauderdale to racketeering conspiracy arising from his leadership of the North Miami group of the Latin Kings gang, was sentenced to more than 12 ½ years’ imprisonment, and is currently incarcerated at the Coleman federal prison in central Florida

In his confession, Rivera claimed that Sigfredo Garcia had recruited Rivera to take part in the killing of Markel and that Katherine Magbanua was “the woman in the middle doing everything.” Rivera also claimed that he did not know the names of the people who had hired Garcia and Magbanua but that the reason for the killing was “because the lady wants her two kids back. She wants full custody of the kids.”

At trial, Magbanua denied involvement but claimed that the case presented by the prosecutors led her to believe Charlie Adelson was “involved” in the murders.

For his part, Garcia claimed that Rivera had carried out the killing alone.

On October 11, a jury found Sigfredo Garcia guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy in the 2014 killing of Dan Markel. On October 15, the jury sentenced Garcia to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder charge, plus thirty years for conspiracy.

The Adelsons deny any involvement; according to a statement issued by their lawyers, “none of the Adelsons — Wendi, her brother Charlie, or their parents Donna and Harvey — had anything to do with Dan [Markel]’s murder.”

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on Katherine Magbanua, though two sources with knowledge of the vote confirmed it was 10-2 for conviction.

Magbanua remains in jail, charged as a co-conspirator, and her retrial is scheduled for April 13, 2020. Unfortunately, her trial is on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak.

It is possible, if Magbanua is convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, law enforcement will seek the arrest and conviction of certain members of Wendi Adelson’s family.

Saam Zangeneh, lawyer of convicted hit man Sigfredo Garcia, has publically said a “little birdie” told him at the time of Magbanua’s first trial in 2019, detectives were already stationed outside the Adelsons’ homes, ready to make arrests, had the state secured two convictions, instead of one conviction and a mistrial.

Listen to Full Rigor Florida True Crime Podcast on the Dan Markel murder case here.