Markel family pleads for murder suspect to remain behind bars

Published: Oct. 5, 2020 at 12:32 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The family of slain FSU professor Dan Markel is making an impassioned plea to keep murder suspect Katherine Magbanua behind bars.

As we first reported on Sept. 3, Magbanua’s attorneys have asked a judge to release her with a GPS tracker to await trial at home, citing COVID risks in jail and a mistrial last year.

Magbanua was scheduled to be retried in April, but the Florida Supreme Court halted all jury trials due to the pandemic. A new retrial date has not been set.

Dan Markel’s family joined prosecutors Friday in asking a judge to deny Magbanua’s pre-trial release request.

“The upcoming retrial of Ms. Magbanua is an important step on the path to justice for Dan, his family, countless friends, colleagues, and loved ones who continue to mourn him,” the family’s attorney wrote in a letter to Circuit Judge Robert Wheeler.

Wheeler took over the case after Judge James Hankinson’s retirement this summer.

Markel’s family laid out their concerns in a four-page letter and asked for the opportunity to be heard if the judge schedules a hearing on the issue.

“There is a significant risk that she would flee, attempt to influence witness testimony or otherwise tamper with trial evidence, and/or conspire with or be influenced by members of the Adelson family,” family attorneys Orin Snyder and Matthew Benjamin wrote.

The Adelsons have never been charged in the case and have repeatedly denied any involvement in Markel’s murder. Magbanua too has maintained her innocence.

Her ex-boyfriend, Sigfredo Garcia, is serving a life sentence in Markel’s murder. Luis Rivera is serving a 19-year prison sentence as part of a plea deal in exchange for his testimony against the couple. He says they all made tens of thousands of dollars in the murder for hire.

There is no word yet on whether the judge will hold a hearing on Magbanua’s pre-trial release request or rule without one.

You can find WCTV’s extended coverage of the 2019 Markel Murder Trial here.

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