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Jury could hear some of Magbanua’s jail phone calls

Watch a live feed of court proceedings in the video player below.
Judge Robert Wheeler deferred a decision Monday morning, but by the end of the day, ruled that...
Judge Robert Wheeler deferred a decision Monday morning, but by the end of the day, ruled that some of the jail calls are admissible.(WCTV)
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 8:40 PM EDT|Updated: May. 24, 2022 at 10:00 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The jury in Katherine Magbanua’s retrial may get to hear a series of phone calls recently recorded at the Leon County Jail.

Monday started with a heated argument over the admissibility of those phone calls as prosecutors sought to introduce them as evidence in the middle of the trial.

“There is no attorney-client privilege and no expectation of privacy,” Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman said of the calls between defense attorney Tara Kawass and Sigfredo Garcia, a defense witness who was previously convicted of Markel’s murder.

“I directly discussed defense strategy with Mr. Garcia,” Kawass told the judge. “Any discussion I made with him is entirely my opinion and work product in preparation for the defense with my witness.”

The judge deferred a decision Monday morning, but by the end of the day, ruled that some of the jail calls are admissible.

Circuit Judge Robert Wheeler ruled that jurors cannot hear any conversations in Spanish or any calls that include defense attorney Tara Kawass. Other calls in English, Wheeler said, will be admissible.

Prosecutors pushed for inclusion of the calls which may help in their cross-examination of Sigfredo Garcia if he is called to the stand for the defense.

He was transported from Holmes Correctional in Bonifay and booked into the Leon County Jail on Monday.

The state told the judge that they had hoped to rest their case Tuesday, but are a half-day behind schedule and may rest on Wednesday instead.

It’s not clear if that would push the trial into next week after the three-day holiday weekend.

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