Update in the Ongoing Dan Markel Murder Case

May 25, 2022 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements, Violent Crimes

We recently covered the details of the Dan Markel case and its retrial happening this month. Dan Markel was an FSU professor that was shot and killed in July of 2014. Despite the amount of time that has gone by since the murder, the alleged murder-for-hire case has returned to the courtroom after an arrest was made in April. To find out all of the details surrounding the case and Charlie Adelson’s 2022 arrest, you can find our informative blog here.

Now we are four days into the retrial of Katherine Magbanua, the former girlfriend of Sigfredo Garcia. Garcia has already been convicted of first-degree murder for being involved in the shooting, receiving life in prison. Magbanua now faces charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and solicitation of murder in connection with Markel’s death.

We will cover the latest details in the ongoing trial against Katherine Magbanua, including the testimony from Charlie Adelson’s ex-girlfriend and his previous employees at his dentist practice.

Adelson’s Ex-Girlfriend Takes the Stand

One of the details the prosecution is trying to uncover is how Magbanua received a large influx of cash around the time of the shooting. Prosecutors were inquiring about what employment Magbanua held. One of Magbanua’s friends, Yindra Valazquez-Mascaro, told the jury that Magabanua was only put on Adelson’s payroll to receive insurance for her children. There was also a statement about Magabanua’s breast enhancement procedure, which was believed to have been funded by Adelson.

The ex-girlfriend of Charlie Adelson, June Umchinda, took the stand to answer questions about her previous partner and his business in 2016. Umchinda admitted that Adelson had large stacks of cash, that were often stapled together. This is a significant piece of information since Magbanua supposedly delivered $100,000 cash stapled together to Luis River, the alleged shooter in the case. The cash was supposedly delivered the day after the shooting.

Umchinda admitted that after Rivera and Garcia’s arrest in 2016, Adelson was never quite the same. She said she did not know he was suspected to be involved with the murder up until a reporter showed up at his house. She claimed he would keep an extra set of clothes by his bed, just in case the authorities tried to raid his home.

“I was shocked he didn’t mention it or didn’t tell me what was going on because I had no idea,” Umchinda said of Adelson’s constant secrecy around that time. The couple had been watching a 20/20 special on TV when it announced he was one of the suspects in the case. Adelson also appeared to be extremely surprised when Magbanua was arrested by the police.

When she tried to ask about the shooting or his involvement, Umchinda said Adelson only revealed that Markel had been shot in his garage. He told her he had no idea who shot Markel. Adelson then started sneaking around, Umchinda told the jury.

One specific night that he lied to his ex-girlfriend was when he met up with Magbanua at Dulce Vida, from which the police have now obtained a voice recording. The surveillance recorded the conversation between Adelson and Magbanua, where they allegedly discussed Adelson’s mother being questioned about Markel’s murder.

Defense Shows Disconnect in Cell Phone Records

Magbanua’s defense team tried to point out the inconsistencies in the prosecution’s evidence received from cell phone data. Defense attorney Chris DeCoste claimed that cell phone records cannot pinpoint a person’s exact location, just which cellular tower site their handset is communicating with.

The prosecution pointed out a series of phone calls between Garcia, Magbanua, Rivera, and Adelson on both the day of the murder and the following day. They believe that the communication following the shooting was about how to split up the $100,000 for the murder-for-hire. However, the defense argues that the proof of communication cannot definitively say that they were all together at some point.

Even with the phone calls between the three other men, Magbanua’s defense points out that she was also in contact with other people during that time period. They also claim it does not show any significance: “This is consistent with Katherine Magbanua speaking to the guy she’s dating at the time then at other times speaking to the father of her two children,” DeCoste said. “When we compare an insignificant day to a significant day this pattern is not unusual.”

Magbanua called Garcia a total of six times the day of the murder, and Rivera a total of three times. “That’s consistent of the mother of two children trying to find the father of her two children who has been out of town for a few days,” DeCoste argued. “Something happened that morning, but we have to take his word for it.”

What’s to Come

The jury will reenter the courtroom for the second week of the murder trial against Magbanua. A cross-examination of the Tallahassee Police Department digital forensics Sgt. Chris Corbett will be completed by the defense team.

The communication from the day of Markel’s murder is important since the prosecution is claiming that it was information being passed to Magbanua that the shooting had been completed. Cell phone data shows that Magbanua and Garcia spoke around 12:30 pm once his phone had been turned back on. Markel was shot just after 10 am.

When River previously took the stand, he testified that he overheard Garcia say, “the job is done” to which Magbanua responded, “I know.”

In addition to addressing the phone calls, there will also be a closer look at Magbanua’s influx of cash that they claim as payment for the murder. Between July 2014 and November 2015, Magbanua deposited over $56,000 in cash into her bank account. The deposits ranged from $300 to $2,000 at a time, mostly from ATMs.

We will see how the case continues to unfold in the following weeks.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

While not all criminal cases gain this much TV spotlight, any time of criminal charge can be extremely terrifying. Navigating the legal world is intimidating, especially going it alone. Luckily you won’t have to. If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, it is imperative to reach out to a skilled defense attorney. Our team at Pumphrey Law Firm can help you strategize a defense, and work towards ensuring your freedom. For a free consultation call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message today.

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