Murder of FSU law professor reaches third-year anniversary

Published: Jul. 18, 2017 at 7:38 PM EDT
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By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News

July 18, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- On July 18, 2014, Florida State University Law professor Dan Markel was gunned down in his own driveway.

The shocking shooting and subsequent allegation that his death was the result of a murder for hire are still unraveling in court.

Accused trigger man Sigfredo Garcia and accused go-between Katherine Magbanua are still awaiting trial. Accused getaway driver Luis Rivera accepted a plea deal and is expected to testify against Garcia and Magbanua.

"It's amazing. It really doesn't seem that long," said Markel's neighbor and friend Reggie Garcia. "Not a week goes by that one of the neighbors doesn't ask or comment, 'What's going on?'"

FSU Law professor Dan Markel was shot at point blank range in his garage before he could even get out of the driver's seat of his car.

"The driver's side window is all bashed in and he's got blood all over his head," a neighbor said in the 911 call.

The first arrests came nearly two years later, as Tallahassee Police revealed details of an alleged murder-for-hire plot. The suspected motive, court papers say, was a custody fight between Markel and his ex-wife over their two children.

"It's quite chilling from a humanity standpoint," Reggie Garcia said. "It's still mind boggling."

Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman is responsible for proving it all.

Attorneys for Garcia, Magbanua and the ex-wife's family have repeatedly called the plot a "theory" and a '"fishing expedition."

Neither the ex-wife nor any of her family members has been charged with a crime, and their attorneys have previously denied any involvement.

"The for-hire portion is to be determined," Cappleman said.

Markel's young sons are now living with their mother in South Florida. His parents are in Canada awaiting answers.

"The Markel family is understandably pretty frustrated with the pace at which this investigation and prosecution is progressing," Cappleman said. "It's hard to say how long it will be before everyone involved is held accountable, but I do believe that will happen."

"At the end of the day, a 41-year-old man was brutally murdered and his two young sons are going to grow up without a father," Reggie Garcia said. "And we can seek justice and hopefully get justice, but neither of those two facts will change."

It will be next year or later before the case goes to trial.

Accused trigger man Sigfredo Garcia is now slated to stand trial January 22, 2018. No trial date has been set for Katherine Magbanua, but she will be in court Friday as prosecutors try to find out who is footing her legal bills.

We reached out to attorneys for Garcia, Magbanua and the Adelson family for comment on the anniversary of Markel's murder, but only Magbanua's legal team responded.

Below is a statement from her defense attorney, Christopher DeCoste, in its entirety:

"On this anniversary, instead of again proclaiming our client’s innocence, we'd rather address the community that lost a son. Through our extensive investigation we’ve learned many things, including something many of you already know. Dan Markel was a great man, a brilliant scholar and a loving father. Current legal battles aside, his untimely passing is tragic. Sadly, the prosecution is trying to extend the margins of this tragedy to include the life of Katherine Magbanua, who had absolutely nothing to do with this heinous act. They’re doing this to pressure her into lying for them to further their own exotic case theory designed to catch the media’s attention, not uncover the truth.”