Mistrial declared in case of Katherine Magbanua

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

Katherine Magbanua was the first witness called to the stand Wednesday morning.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The judge has declared a mistrial in the case of Katherine Magbanua after the jury could not decide on a verdict in the Dan Markel Murder Trial.

Accused triggerman Sigfredo Garcia has been found guilty first degree murder and conspiracy in the July 2014 murder of FSU law professor Dan Markel.

Magbanua started crying in the courtroom when Garcia's guilty verdict was handed down.

"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.”

The verdict comes after ten days of testimony and nearly 10 hours of jury deliberation over the span of a day and a half.

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

You can watch the moment the judge ruled the mistrial in court below, around the 18:30 timestamp.

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 have been watching this trial closely from the courtroom.

Five years after their loved one was murdered, they finally have a piece of justice to hold onto.

“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.”

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.”

Copyright 2019 WCTV. All rights reserved.