Katherine Magbanua Sentenced for Dan Markel Murder Case

August 4, 2022 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements, Violent Crimes

Katherine Magbanua, 37, received a guilty verdict in May for the first-degree murder of Florida State law professor Dan Markel. In addition to the murder charge, Magbanua was also found guilty of charges of conspiracy and solicitation.

As we’ve covered the case in previous blogs, Magbanua allegedly hired Sigfredo Garcia—the father of her children—along with his friend Luis Rivera to drive from Miami to Tallahassee to shoot and kill Markel in his driveway. Prosecutors believe that the money for the hit was provided by Markel’s former brother-in-law, Charlie Adelson.

Since Magbanua was found guilty of first-degree murder by a unanimous 12-person jury, the punishment is an automatic life sentence, the judge has no discretion for this charge. Each of the related charges she faces carries a potential 30-year sentence. Magbanua’s attorney, Tara Kawass, requested the minimum sentence of 172.5 months (over 14 years) for the additional charges.

Kawass provided a statement on Magbanua’s behalf, claiming that the defendant constantly thinks of the deceased and his family:

“She does think about Dan Markel every single day, she does think about his kids every single day. Not a day goes by that she doesn’t express how her heart is broken for the Markel family. One thing that I can say that Ms. Magbanua hopes and prays for is that justice is ongoing and has not been reached in this case and she wants each and every person who had a hand in this and knows something about this to be brought to justice.”

Despite Kawass’ attempt for a lesser sentence, Circuit Judge Robert Wheeler sentenced Katherine Magbanua to life in prison for first-degree murder, with two additional 30-year sentences for the other charges. The sentences will run consecutively; the judge has the discretion of running the sentencing consecutively or concurrently.  

Markel’s Sister Gives an Impact Statement

It has been eight years since Dan Markel was gunned down in his garage in Betton Hills. Shelly Markel, Dan’s sister, gave a victim impact statement, in which she recounted the childhood she had with her brother. Shelly addressed the sadness she felt for losing her brother, and the memories they could have had in the future.

“Eight years he has not been with us and in those eight years we continue to suffer. We continue to grieve,” Shelly gave her victim impact statement via video call. “His murder has been horrible for me and my family. Shocking, surreal, and so hard to understand. His future was cut short. Imagine what was ahead of him.”

Charlie Adelson Next?

Now that Magbanua’s sentencing has been completed, Markel’s former brother-in-law is set to have his first case management conference. Adelson is accused of being the main orchestrator in the murder, paying for the hit on Dan Markel.

Adelson’s attorney, Daniel Rashbaum, has filed a motion for his client’s release on bond. He has requested that Circuit Judge Robert Wheeler set an Arthur hearing. An Arthur Hearing occurs when a defendant has been accused of a crime that does not allow a bond, which is typically punishable with the maximum sentence of life in prison. However, the judge has the authority to grant an Arthur Hearing, which would then grant the defendant bail until their trial begins.

For a judge to grant an Arthur hearing, the following must be proven:

  • There is not enough significant evidence to prove that the defendant is guilty of the charges placed on them.
  • The defendant is not a danger or threat to society.

To read more about Arthur Hearings and what happens during the different phases, find our informative page here.

In the motion filed by Rashbaum, he argued that within the six years since Markel’s murder, Adelson had only been indicted on the murder charges this April. He mentioned how Tallahassee Police Department said the role Adelson played in the murder was up to “speculation” which is why an arrest had not occurred sooner.

“The state’s case is based exclusively on circumstantial evidence,” Rashbaum wrote in the motion. “The Dolce recording is emblematic of the state’s inability to meet its burden here, as the recording on its face, suggests an alternative theory: not that Mr. Adelson is guilty, but that he had no knowledge of, connection to or involvement in the conspiracy to kill Professor Markel.”  

In the Arthur Hearing, the state has to prove the crime was committed by a showing of a “great presumption.”

Charlie Adelson’s Arthur hearing has been set for September 9th.

Discussions of Adelson’s trial date is suspected to place some time in the beginning of 2023. He has pleaded not guilty to his charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and solicitation of murder.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime in the state of Florida, it is imperative that you seek out the legal help of a skilled Florida criminal defense attorney. Getting convicted of a criminal conviction can lead to harsh consequences such as expensive fines and potential prison time. Only working with an experienced attorney can help you build a strong defense to your case. Pumphrey Law Firm has worked with clients across the state, and will stand in your corner to fight for your freedom. For a free consultation, call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message.

Written by Karissa Key

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