UPDATE: Magbanua retrial delayed until May
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — A judge has ordered a delay in the upcoming retrial of Katherine Magbanua.
The decision comes just two weeks before Magbanua was set to stand trial in the murder of FSU professor Dan Markel. Her previous trial ended in a mistrial.
The judge says he will set a new trial date sometime in May, but hasn’t yet chosen a specific date.
“This is an unreasonable delay,” Circuit Judge Robert Wheeler said. “But I don’t have any choice.”
The prosecution and defense joined in a motion requesting the delay. Both sides said they hoped the work of an audio forensics expert could help their case, and his analysis would not be finished for another three to five weeks.
The expert is reviewing and enhancing a recording of a conversation between Magbanua and Charlie Adelson at a Miami restaurant back in 2016. There has been significant legal debate over the admissibility of the recording because parts of the conversation are inaudible.
You can read WCTV’s previous story previewing Tuesday’s court hearing below.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The retrial of Katherine Magbanua could be delayed again.
Attorneys filed a joint motion for a continuance late Sunday asking the judge to allow an expert in audio forensics more time to analyze secret recordings in the case.
A hearing on the request to delay the trial is now scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
FBI agents surreptitiously recorded a conversation between Magbanua and Charlie Adelson at the Dolce Vita restaurant in Miami back in 2016. There has been significant legal debate over the admissibility of the recording because parts of the conversation are inaudible.
A motion filed Monday says the state hired James Keith McElveen — who spent nearly a decade in audio forensics for the CIA — to enhance the recording. When defense attorneys deposed him on Jan. 20, they say they learned he and two FBI agents recently traveled to Miami to obtain acoustic recordings at the restaurant, and it would take “several more weeks to complete his work.”
“The government hopes the end product will support their case theory whereas undersigned is confident it will contain exculpatory evidence for Ms. Magbanua. Whatever the case, time is needed for Mr. McElveen to complete his work, which could bring an end to this case without the need for a retrial,” defense attorneys wrote.
Magbanua’s retrial is scheduled to start Feb. 14 with a series of pre-trial hearings slated to start later this week.
Court administrators have already sent out 500 jury summons and are expecting 200 jurors to report in the Magbanua case over the span of the first two days.
Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera are already serving prison time for their roles in the 2014 murder of FSU professor Dan Markel. Magbanua’s first trial ended in a mistrial and she has consistently denied any involvement in the murder-for-hire scheme.
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