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Money, Magbanua’s employment history focus of Monday afternoon testimony

The retrial of Katherine Magbanua - who is accused in the 2014 murder for hire of FSU professor Dan Markel - has entered its second week.
One of Charlie Adelson’s ex-girlfriends took the stand Monday afternoon and testified he kept “thousands” in cash in a safe at his home.
Published: May. 22, 2022 at 10:44 PM EDT|Updated: May. 23, 2022 at 8:33 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - One of Charlie Adelson’s ex-girlfriends took the stand Monday afternoon and testified he kept “thousands” in cash in a safe at his home.

“Were they stapled together in stacks?” prosecutor Georgia Cappleman asked.

“I believe so, I saw like a staple. This was so long ago,” June Umchinda said.

“Would it refresh your recollection...” Cappleman continued.

“No, I remember it,” Umchinda said.

Umchinda’s testimony is important to the prosecution in light of previous testimony from the state’s star witness, Luis Rivera. Rivera testified that the money he received as payment for Dan Markel’s murder was stapled together.

June Umchinda testified that she dated Charlie Adelson off and on for years, describing them at one point as “inseparable.”

Umchinda said the two broke up in 2017 after intense media coverage of the case, saying Adelson was “never the same.”

She testified he was prone to depression, anger and sleepless nights.

Umchinda said the last time she spoke to Charlie Adelson was the night before his arrest in April of this year.

Yindra Velazquez Mascaro - one of Magbanua’s childhood friends - also took the stand Monday - testifying for about 90 minutes.

“She was a great mom,” Mascaro said of Magbanua.

“Would you describe her as one of the best moms you ever knew?” defense attorney Tara Kawass asked.

“Yes,” Mascaro replied.

“Her children were everything to her?” Kawass asked.

“Yes,” Mascaro said.

Mascaro was questioned about Magbanua’s work history and her relationship with both Sigfredo Garcia and Charlie Adelson.

Mascaro testified that Magbanua was frustrated with Garcia, who she says had a cocaine problem and trouble keeping a job and struggled to provide financial support for the couple’s two children.

She says Magbanua confided in her that she was “embarrassed” after discovering Garcia had found Adelson’s number on her phone, called him and left a nasty message.

Mascaro said it turns out Garcia had called Adelson’s father instead.

Mascaro said Magbanua had worked a series of jobs in the months and years leading up to the 2014 murder, including at two clubs, a dermatology office, a realty company and a dental office where Magbanua met Charlie Adelson.

Mascaro described meeting Adelson twice while the two were dating, including a trip to the beach.

Mascaro said that it was rare for Magbanua to ask her to watch her children, but she did on July 18, 2014.

That was the day Markel was murdered in Tallahassee.

She testified that Magbanua called her the next day.

“What did she tell you that had happened?” the prosecutor asked.

“She told me that Charlie’s brother-in-law had gotten into an accident,” Mascaro said.

“What type of accident did she say Charlie Adelson’s ex-brother-in-law had?” the prosecutor asked.

“A car accident,” Mascaro answered.

“Did you have any idea at the time his brother-in-law had been murdered?” the prosecutor asked.

“No, ma’am,” Mascaro replied.

A club owner and two employees of the Adelson family’s dental practice, The Adelson Institute, also testified Monday afternoon.

Find WCTV’s earlier updates from Monday’s court proceedings below.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Tallahassee Police Sgt. Chris Corbitt took the stand for a second day in the retrial of Katherine Magbanua, detailing phone calls, text messages and iMessages in the days surrounding the murder of FSU professor Dan Markel.

Markel was shot and killed as he pulled into his driveway on July 18, 2014, in what prosecutors contend was a murder for hire. Magbanua is one of four people charged in the plot. Her first trial ended with a deadlocked jury and a mistrial.

Corbitt testified for hours on Friday afternoon and spent more than three hours on the stand being cross-examined by the defense Monday morning.

Much of the cross-examination focused on the morning after Markel’s murder when prosecutors contend Garcia and Rivera met with Magbanua to get paid for the murder.

Call records presented in court Monday show a flurry of calls between Magbanua and Garcia on the morning of July 19, 2014, between 9:44 and 10:23 a.m., including six outgoing calls in four minutes.

“The volume of calls are indicative of some emotional event,” Corbitt testified. “When we see this rapid, repeated texting and calling for such an extended period of time we know that it was somewhat urgent for someone to get ahold of someone else.”

“You’d agree with me that that is consistent with the mother of two children trying to find the father of her two children who’s been out of town for a couple of days? It’s consistent with that right?” defense attorney Chris DeCoste asked.

“It could be, yes,” Corbitt responded.

The defense suggested that call logs offer no clues to the content of the calls and cell tower records can’t pinpoint a caller’s exact location.

“You have that Katie pinged on a tower near Jessica Rodrigues’ address, right?” DeCoste asked.

“Yes,” Corbitt said.

“You cannot say that she was at that address?”

“I cannot,” Corbitt testified.

The jury also got to see a series of text messages between Magbanua and her then-boyfriend Charlie Adelson. One joked about Garcia inviting Adelson to go deep-sea fishing.

Find WCTV’s preview looking at the second week of this trial below.

CONTINUING COVERAGE:

FBI agents, wire taps and undercover videos could dominate the second week of testimony in Katherine Magbanua’s retrial.

The first person on the stand Monday is expected to be Tallahassee Police SGT Chris Corbitt, who tracked thousands of cell phone calls and text messages in the case. He spent hours on the stand Friday and is expected to be cross examined by the defense Monday morning.

Magbanua is one of four people accused in the 2014 murder for hire of FSU law professor Dan Markel. Co-defendants Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera are already serving prison time for the murder. Charlie Adelson, Markel’s ex-brother in law, is now in jail awaiting trial.

Jurors have already heard from Rivera, the state’s key witness, whose testimony spanned two days last week. Jurors also heard from Wendi Adelson who continued to deny any involvement in her ex-husband’s murder.

This week jurors are likely to hear more about what prosecutors contend is an influx of cash into Magbanua’s bank account in the weeks following the murder and a spot on the payroll at the Adelson family’s dental practice.

An FBI agent is also expected to take the stand and testify about wire taps, a ruse called “the Bump” and an undercover video of Magbanua meeting with Charlie Adelson at the Dolce Vita restaurant. The defense contends most of Magbanua’s comments on that tape are inaudible and do nothing to implicate her in the murder for hire plot.

The judge is also expected to rule Monday on the admissibility of several jail phone calls that prosecutors are trying to introduce mid-trial. The content of Magbanua’s recently recorded conversations, including some in Spanish, is not yet clear.

Magbanua’s retrial is slated to last through this Friday, May 27th. There is no word yet on when the state might rest and when the defense will begin calling witnesses.

Magbanua testified in her own defense in her first trial, which ended with a hung jury in 2019, but it’s not clear yet if she’ll be testifying in this trial.

Sigfredo Garcia, Magbanua’s longtime boyfriend and convicted triggerman in the murder is also on the defense witness list.

The judge signed a transport order last Thursday and ordered the Florida Department of Corrections to transport Garcia from Holmes Correctional Institution in Bonifay, Florida to the Leon County Jail by Tuesday, May 24th, so he’ll be available to testify if called.

WCTV will continue to stream the trial live from gavel to gavel each day on its website, WCTV.TV, and on the WCTV Facebook page.

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