Markel Murder Trial Day 10: Jury to return for deliberations Friday

By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News
October 10, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — After more than four hours of deliberations on Thursday, court has adjourned. The jury, which is being sequestered for this leg of the trial, was sent to their hotel around 8:30 p.m. Deliberations will resume at 8:45 a.m. Friday, according to Judge James Hankinson.

After 10 days of captivating testimony and attorneys giving their arguments, the Dan Markel murder case is now in the hands of the jury.

WCTV has continued coverage of this trial, including recaps of each day in court.

Whenever the trial is in session, you can watch a livestream of it here on our website.

Day 10 wrap

The waiting game is now underway. Closing statements lasted more than six hours inside courtroom 3G.

Those arguments wrapped up around 3:45 p.m. The jurors were then given careful instructions on how to proceed in crafting a verdict.

They have a lot to break down: Two defendants, Katherine Magbanua and Sigfredo Garcia each facing murder conspiracy and solicitation charges.

Another factor for jurors to consider is the fact Garcia is facing the death penalty.

During their closing argument, the prosecution urged the jury not to consider that the people who are ultimately responsible are not in the courtroom. Prosecutors began their two hour argument by pinning the blame on the family of Markel's ex-wife: The Adelsons.

“What enemy or enemies had Mr. Markel made?” Prosecutor Georgia Cappleman asked. “His own family.”

Previously in court, the state played wiretaps and a video referred to as "the bump," where an undercover FBI agent handed a note to Donna Adelson, Markel's ex-mother-in-law, and then recorded who talked to whom.

“She goes straight to Charlie Adelson who goes straight to Katherine Magbanua, who goes goes straight to Sigfredo Garcia. Exactly what this undercover operation was designed to ferret out,” said Cappleman.

Cappleman told jurors that justice for anyone not in the courtroom will have to wait for another day.

"We are trusting you to render a wise and legal verdict in this case," she said.

Defense attorneys did their best to shift the blame to someone else.

Garcia's lawyer squared his argument on the role of Luis Rivera, the gang kingpin who became the government's key witness, in the murder.

"A gangster killed Dan Markel. Luis Rivera killed Dan Markel," attorney Saam Zangeneh said.

Magbanua's attorney turned the attention back to the Adelsons.

"They tried to build a case around her, to force her to cooperate, so they culd get what they have been going after for years now: the Adelson family," attorney Chris DeCoste said.

None of the Adelson clan has been charged with any crime, and they deny any involvement in the Markel murder.

Both 'Dateline NBC' and ABC's '20/20' are working on the true crime story.

Each juror will use a verdict form to sort everything out. If the jury doesn't come up with a verdict by around 8 or 9 p.m., they'll be sequestered in a hotel.

12:30 p.m. update

Sigfredo Garcia’s attorney told the jury one thing in this case has remained constant: Garcia hated Charlie Adelson.

“Hates his guts in April. Hates his guts in July,” defense attorney Saam Zangeneh said.

Zangeneh told the jury Garcia wouldn’t have done anything to help Charlie Adelson because he was jealous and angry about his relationship with Katherine Magbanua.

Zangeneh attacked the state’s theory that Magbanua hired Garcia to kill Dan Markel.

"It’s not like she asked him to pick up some milk or diapers," Zangeneh said. “Honey, you wanna make $100,000 for killing someone you don’t know?”

Zangeneh said it defies common sense to think Garcia would have committed a murder and put his life on the line without asking who’s paying for it and without getting any money up front.

“I guess it was C.O.D,” he said.

Zangeneh pointed out to the jury that none of the Adelsons are charged in the case and none of them are on trial. He said Charlie Adelson is probably watching it right now, “in the comfort of his own home.”

“They’re painting a picture with missing pieces,” Zangeneh said of the prosecution.

“Don’t jump because the state says jump. Ask questions,” Zangeneh said. “Ask the right questions and do the right thing.”

11 a.m. update

“It’s dry,” prosecutor Georgia Cappleman said of the many phone records in the case, “but it’s super important stuff.”

Cappleman showed a map of the state of Florida which shows Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera’s phones pinging cell towers up the peninsula and across I-10 on their trip to Tallahassee in July 2014.

Cappleman claimed Garcia and Rivera’s deadly trip to Tallahassee was only about 36 hours long. Cappleman said in that time span, Garcia and Magbanua communicated 21 times, including 12 phone calls.

Cappleman said phone records also corroborate Rivera’s testimony about them casing Markel’s home the day before the murder, following Markel to Premier Gym the morning of the murder and Garcia, Rivera and Magbanua meeting in Miami for a payoff the following day.

Cappleman said they scoured phone records to try to find any link between Rivera and the Adelsons.

“There’s no evidence or proof of communication whatsoever,” Cappleman said.

10:30 a.m. update

"This is the full picture,” Prosecutor Georgia Cappleman said as she faced the jury to begin her closing arguments in the Dan Markel murder case.

Cappleman flashed a picture of Dan Markel on the big screen and then followed it with pictures of Sigfredo Garcia, Luis Rivera, Katherine Magbanua and the Adelson family.

“What enemy or enemies had Mr. Markel made?” Cappleman asked. “His own family.”

Cappleman cited Markel’s custody battle with his ex-wife Wendi Adelson over their two children as the motive for the murder.

She flashed a series of court filings from the couple’s divorce on the big screen.

There were “high emotions and a lot at stake on both sides,” she said.

Cappleman shared a series of emails from Donna Adelson to Wendi Adelson in the summer of 2013, one of which suggests offering Markel $1 million to allow Wendi to move their children to South Florida.

Donna Adelson saying in one email that relocation was “NON-NEGOTIABLE.”

“Dan Markel was murdered and re-location was no longer a problem,” Cappleman said.

Cappleman told the jury it was natural to wonder why the Adelsons are not charged with any crimes and are not on trial. She said that’s “for another day and another jury.”

Cappleman described Luis Rivera as a “bad dude” who “made a deal to save his butt.”

Cappleman asked the jury to look at evidence that corroborates what Rivera said, including a surveillance photo of Rivera and Garcia at an ATM the day of the murder.

It shows Rivera in the drivers seat in a dark-colored shirt and Garcia in the passenger seat in a white t-shirt. Cappleman pointed out that’s consistent with surveillance video from a city bus moments after the murder and consistent with Rivera claiming Garcia was the triggerman.

“You’re not going to be the shooter and the getaway driver,” Cappleman said.

Cappleman also pointed out Rivera’s testimony that Garcia accidentally fired a shot though the floorboard of their rented Prius on the trip to Tallahassee. She said investigators tracked down the Prius and found the bullet hole just as he said.

Cappleman said that’s something only he would know, “because he was there.”

9:30 a.m. update

Attorneys are getting ready to begin making their final arguments to the jury in the Dan Markel murder case.

Sigfredo Garcia and Katherine Magbanua are facing solicitation, conspiracy and murder charges in the shooting death of the FSU professor.

The jury could begin deliberating by early afternoon.

Testimony has spanned 10 days including testimony from co-defendant Luis Rivera who described a deadly trip to Tallahassee in July 2014 and a $100,000 pay off the day after the murder.

Defendant Katherine Magbanua was the defense’s final witness Wednesday. She denied any involvement in Markel’s murder and denied coordinating any payments for it.

Defendant Sigfredo Garcia chose not to testify.

The judge is reading jury instructions out loud right now and explaining the elements required to prove each crime.

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