WCTV legal analyst gives insight on Dan Markel Murder Trial

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
October 12, 2019

Tallahassee attorney and WCTV legal analyst Joe Bodiford has more than 23 years of criminal trial experience. (Image via BodifordLaw.com)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Dan Markel murder case is a complicated one. During the 10 days of witness testimony, a Latin King who took a plea deal, an undercover FBI agent and the ex-wife of the murder victim all took the stand.

Experts analyzed video evidence, phone records and wire taps for hours, yet the jury still couldn't make a decision in Katherine Magbanua's case.

Throughout the trial, Tallahassee attorney Joe Bodiford joined WCTV on set to provide a voice of reason in the virtual sea of confusion this case creates.

Here are some of the questions he answered for us right after the trial ended on Friday.

Q: What evidence do you think sealed the first-degree murder conviction for Sigfredo Garcia?

A: I think it has to be Rivera. The jury found some credibility in him. I mentioned this last week: Somebody who was in the courtroom watching Rivera testify told me they felt the jury liked him. I thought "liked" was a peculiar term, but I think what that person was trying to convey was that the jury believed him.

Obviously, they did because there was just one person on the face of the planet who could put [Garcia] as the triggerman, and he did.

Q: Considering Garcia is facing life in prison or the death penalty, what's next for his defense attorneys?

A: Their job at this stage in the game is to try to get the jury to not recommend unanimously the death sentence be imposed by judge Hankinson. They're going to try and get them to come back with a life sentence.

Based on the proceedings, the first phase of sentencing is in the afternoon, so I don't think [Hankinson] is anticipating being there that long.

It may be that they just don't present any evidence. That is a possibility. It's not a good thing to do, and it certainly could present issues down the road. They may present very little, what are they gonna say?

I think there may be a different set of lawyers. A lot of times we'll see them switch out lawyers from the ones who said 'He didn't do it.' to a new set of lawyers that say 'Well, he did it because...' And the because could be he has mental issues, it could be he was abused as a child, or a set of issues that somebody could use to feel sorry for him and led to his life of crime.

And I'm not implying that these things apply to Garcia, but these things are going to use as what we call mitigators, so they won't impose [the death penalty].

It's going to be interesting to see what actually transpires between now and Monday afternoon for Garcia's team. They've got a lot to do.

I haven't seen what I thought was a mitigation specialist, somebody we use very specifically to dig into everything and anything to get the jury to find a life sentence over death.

They may have one, but we'll see what happens. It's going to be tough.

Q: What do you think the jury struggled with in trying to come up with a verdict for Katherine Magbanua?

A: The idea of a principal kind of goes along with solicitation in this particular case. The principal is somebody who knows about a thing, then goes along with or joins the illegal plan.

Somebody who's an accessory after the fact if they aid somebody after the bad thing is done. I may not know that somebody has murdered somebody, but if they come to me and say 'Hey, I need you to help me and hide the murder weapon?' and I say 'OK' well then now I'm an accessory after the fact to that murder.

I've been thinking about the way this case has been presented, and there was a lot of focus on the aftermath of the bump. The bump is significant. There wasn't a whole lot of talk about Katie before the murder.

Maybe one or more of the jurors was hung up on the fact that maybe they didn't prove that she knew it was going to happen.

If you recall, one of the questions the jury had was can somebody be a principal to something they didn't know was going to be premeditated. Maybe the juror thought she didn't know it would go down how it went down, and she only had knowledge after the fact.

We may never know what they got hung up on.

Q: Do you think the state will try Magbanua again for murder and conspiracy?

A: I think that they would and have to. This case is significant is enough and they've made comments to the public about wanting to try to get to what the state believes is the source of the problem is, the Adelsons, and I think you can expect to see them to try her again.

And you may even see a Katie-Charlie [Adelson] trial next time, who knows?

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