Katherine Magbanua to remain behind bars, appeals court says

Published: Jan. 7, 2021 at 2:10 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Katherine Magbanua, a suspect in the murder of FSU Law professor Dan Markel, will remain in jail to await trial.

The First District Court of Appeals denied Magbanua’s request to be released from jail.  Her legal team had cited insufficient evidence and the risk of getting COVID-19 while waiting in jail.

The court order dated Jan. 7, 2021, follows a Dec. 8, 2020, decision and details the court’s rationale in writing.

Magbanua has been in the Leon County Jail since her arrest in Oct. 2016.  The clerk’s records indicate she has spent 1,551 days in jail.  A jury deadlocked in her trial in Sept. 2019 and a re-trial scheduled for April 2020 was postponed due to COVID-19.

This is the third time Magbanua has asked the court to be released on bond or subject to house arrest to await trial.

Magbanua’s most recent request was filed in August 2020 and rejected by the new circuit judge assigned to the case.

Circuit Judge Robert Wheeler said “the proof of Magbanua’s guilt remained evident and the presumption great,” and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office had COVID-19 measures “sufficient to address any danger to [Magbanua’s] health.”

Magbanua’s re-trial, like many other trials in the Second Circuit, has been delayed indefinitely due to COVID-19.   Her next court date is scheduled in March, but no trial date has been set.

Magbanua is one of three people accused in the 2014 murder of FSU Law professor Dan Markel.  The accused triggerman, Sigfredo Garcia, was found guilty at trial and is serving a life sentence. The accused getaway driver is serving a 19-year prison sentence in exchange for his testimony against them.

You can find WCTV’s extensive coverage of the Markel Murder Trial at this link.

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