Sigfredo Garcia found guilty of first degree murder in Markel trial

By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News
October 11, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — The jury has just reached a verdict for one defendant, and was hung for the other, in the Dan Markel murder case.

Accused triggerman Sigfredo Garcia has been found guilty of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the July 2014 murder of FSU law professor Dan Markel. He was not found guilty of solicitation.

The jury could not reach a decision on Katherine Magbanua's charges, and the judge declared a mistrial.

You can watch the moment the verdict was handed down in court below, around the 5:50:00 timestamp.

The sentencing phase for Garcia is set to begin at 1 p.m. Monday. Jurors will decide whether he gets a life sentence or faces the death penalty.


When Garcia's guilty verdict was announced, Magbanua started crying in the courtroom.

"This is an emotional case, I mean, you know, I think that she had been reserving her emotional aspect for a long time and it reached a tipping point," defense attorney Saam Zangeneh said. "You know and listen, to what you just heard that the father of her children may be put to death and there’s no way he will step out of a Florida state prison.”

Zangeneh said Magbanua wasn't the only emotional one in the courtroom.

"You could see jurors were emotional with regards to their response, so that's all we could ask the jury to do," he said.

The verdict comes after ten days of testimony and more than 10 hours of deliberation over the span of two days.

Garcia and Magbanua were tried together. A third co-defendant, Luis Rivera, opted for a plea deal and testified against them.

Markel was gunned down in his garage in what prosecutors contend was a murder for hire plot motivated by a custody battle over the Markel’s two children. Neither Markel’s ex-wife nor any of her family members have been charged with a crime and have repeatedly denied any involvement in his murder.

Markel’s family sat in the courtroom throughout the entire trial.

Lead prosecutor Georgia Cappleman said the Markels view Garcia's guilty verdict as a step in the direction towards justice.

“It’s been a long road and I’m really happy to get the beginnings of some justice for the Markel family,” Cappleman said. “They’re happy, they’re very happy.”

State attorney Jack Campbell said it took years of work to get a conviction in this case.

"I'm incredibly proud of the trial team, and the hard work that's been done by the Tallahassee Police Department, the FBI, the FDLE, the attorneys and their office. I'm very proud," Campbell said.

The Markel family released the following statement in reference to the verdict:

"Danny was brutally murdered in cold blood. After waiting five long years, we are relieved that at least one of the people responsible for Danny’s murder was convicted today and are grateful for the tireless efforts of law enforcement and the State Attorney’s Office. Yet justice was only partially served. In light of the mountain of evidence presented by the State Attorney’s Office, we are confident Katherine Magbanua will be re-tried and convicted.

As all who followed this trial know, there is more work to be done to ensure that everyone responsible for Danny’s murder is held accountable. Until that day comes, we will continue to fight for complete justice and to be reunited with our grandchildren, Danny’s two young boys, whom we love and miss dearly."

Charlie Adelson's attorney sent a statement to WCTV:

“My first reaction is that I hope the Markel family feels some sense of justice and relief that Garcia was convicted. This trial must have been so hard and taxing on them. My second reaction is that the prosecution couldn’t prove its theory on Katie after 3 years of really thorough investigation and preparation. This is why they have not charged Charlie and his family — the case simply isn’t there. We don’t charge people based on amateur speculation. Professional prosecutors rightfully understood that it couldn’t prove a case against Charlie before this trial. After the hung jury, their prospects have gone down, not up.”

Wendi Adelson, who is Markel's ex-wife, also sent a statement to WCTV via her attorney:

“The evidence at trial, offered by both the prosecutors and defense, shows beyond any doubt that Wendi had no connection to these tragic events. She has complete faith in the legal system to ensure that justice will be done.”

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