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State could rest its case against Katherine Magbanua on Wednesday

Published: May. 24, 2022 at 10:13 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Jurors in Katherine Magbanua’s retrial put on headphones Tuesday afternoon to begin listening to wiretapped calls and will see the controversial Dolce Vita video on Wednesday.

The Dolce Vita video will likely be the finale to the state’s case, as prosecutors expect to rest their case Wednesday afternoon.

The Dolce Vita video captures a meeting between Katherine Magbanua and Charlie Adelson. It was recorded by an FBI agent in 2016 and recently enhanced by a forensic engineer to minimize background noise in the busy restaurant.

“The audio quality was very poor, due to distance, due to noise, due to the configuration of equipment,” said forensic engineer Keith McElveen.

McElveen took the stand Tuesday afternoon to describe how he was able to better isolate the voices of Magbanua and Adelson, but says Magbanua’s voice was “softer” and she “doesn’t talk nearly as much” as Adelson.

The judge previously ruled the tape admissible but did not allow the state to add subtitles or provide a transcript.

Jurors did have a chance to see another undercover FBI video Tuesday afternoon, an encounter prosecutors call “the bump.”

An FBI agent walked up to Donna Adelson, Charlie’s mother, on the street in Miami, handed her a note with Dan Markel’s picture on it, a news article about his murder, a phone number and a dollar figure of $5,000. It was a ruse to generate conversation among the Adelsons and Magbanua, while agents listened to wiretaps and recorded their calls.

On cross-examination, the undercover agent admitted no one made a copy of the flyer. He called it an “oversight.”

FBI Special Agent Pat Sanford — the lead investigator in the case — was the last witness on the stand Tuesday.

Sanford described his role in coordinating the wiretaps, “the bump” and the undercover recording at Dolce Vita.

Jurors donned headphones and started listening to recorded calls between Charlie Adelson and his mother, and recorded calls between Charlie Adelson and Katherine Magbanua.

The state told the judge that Sanford would be their final witness and they are planning to play the Dolce Vita video on Wednesday.

Defense attorney Chris DeCoste told the judge he has several witnesses for the defense — which could include Katherine Magbanua and Sigrfredo Garcia — and estimated defense testimony could last two days.

It’s not clear yet whether the trial will wrap up by Friday as planned or if jurors would be asked to return next week after the Memorial Day holiday.

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