Magbanua to be sentenced Friday in murder-for-hire plot

Katherine Magbanua is back in a Tallahassee courtroom as jury selection begins, she'll be...
Katherine Magbanua is back in a Tallahassee courtroom as jury selection begins, she'll be retried for the murder of FSU professor Dan Markel.(WCTV)
Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 10:27 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Katherine Magbanua will be sentenced Friday in the murder for hire of FSU professor Dan Markel.

Magbanua was found guilty as charged in May of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and solicitation to commit first-degree murder.

She faces an automatic life sentence for the first-degree murder conviction and up to 30 years in prison on each of the other charges.

The Markel family was in court during the two-week trial and is expected to share a victim impact statement via Zoom at Friday’s hearing, prosecutors say.

Dan Markel was shot and killed as he pulled into the garage of his Betton Hills home in July 2014 in what investigators believe was a murder for hire fueled by a bitter custody battle over his two children.

Magbanua is the third person to be convicted in the plot.

Sigfredo Garcia was found guilty at trial in Oct. 2019 and sentenced to life in prison.

His friend, Luis Rivera, is serving a 19-year sentence as part of a plea deal in exchange for his testimony against the others.

Rivera testified that he and Garcia traveled to Tallahassee to commit the murder and that the three of them were paid $100,000 in cash when they returned home to Miami.

Magbanua sobbed as the guilty verdicts against her were announced in court May 27 after eight hours of jury deliberations.

Her sentencing hearing will be held in the same courtroom beginning Friday at 9 a.m.

It’s not clear if Magbanua will make a statement in court or whether her defense team will call any character witnesses to testify on her behalf. Magbanua has maintained her innocence since her arrest in 2016 and continued to deny any role in the plot as she testified at trial.

Charlie Adelson, who is now the fourth person arrested in the murder-for-hire plot, is expected to appear before the same judge Friday morning as well for a case management hearing.

Adelson is Magbanua’s ex-boyfriend and the brother of Markel’s ex-wife, Wendi.

He was arrested just weeks before Magbanua’s trial. Court records show this will be his first court appearance since April.

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