Magbanua retrial likely this fall

FILE PHOTO (10/9/19): Katherine Magbanua was the first witness called to the stand Wednesday...
FILE PHOTO (10/9/19): Katherine Magbanua was the first witness called to the stand Wednesday morning.(WCTV)
Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 11:35 AM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Katherine Magbanua, one of three people accused in the murder of FSU Law Professor Dan Markel, could stand trial this fall.

Magbanua was originally scheduled to be retried in April 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed her case and thousands more.

Circuit Judge Robert Wheeler said in a hearing Thursday that he wants to set a tentative trial date. He proposed a two-week trial in July, but the defense requested a trial after Labor Day due to health concerns.

Chris DeCoste told the judge he and fellow defense attorney Tara Kawass are both cancer survivors and are concerned about traveling and visiting Magbanua at the jail. The two are based in Miami.

Defense attorneys say COVID-19 has limited their contact with Magbanua, who has been in the Leon County Jail since her arrest in 2016. Her first trial ended with a hung jury.

DeCoste told the judge they will also need time to review a newly enhanced video of a meeting at the Dolce Vita Restaurant, as well as review new financial and phone records in the case.

Judge Wheeler is planning to check his calendar and is aiming for a trial date in September or October. He set another case management hearing for May 6 in hopes of setting a realistic date then.

Markel was shot and killed in his driveway back in July 2014 in what prosecutors say was a murder for hire plot.

Accused triggerman Sigfredo Garcia has already been found guilty in Markel’s murder and getaway driver Luis Rivera is serving a 19-year prison sentence in exchange for his testimony against Garcia and Magbanua.

Magbanua has maintained her innocence since her arrest.

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