No Delayed Trial For Markel Murder Suspects, Defense Has Days To Sort Through Evidence

May 21, 2019

The Dan Markel murder trial remains set for June 3, after a Tallahassee judge denied the defense’s request to postpone the trial while ordering the prosecutor to turn over key evidence by Friday.

Shooting Victim Dan Markel
Credit Florida State University College of Law

Defense Attorney Christopher DeCoste says the government is being hypocritical. 

“The system allows us certain things and there’s a certain aspect of fairness and to me it’s a little bit hypocritical for the government to say were going to prosecute someone for breaking the rules and then with the rules that apply to them on the process that they are just going to break those," he said.

"Because there are clear rules in discovery, there is clear rules on what we’re entitled to, when we are entitled to it, the fact that we get to look into it to investigate it. We are being denied that, but we are still ready for trial."

The defense says its clients aren't getting a fair trial. Katherine Magbanua and co-defendant Sigfredo Garcia are accused of murdering Florida State University law professor Dan Markel in July 2014. Investigators say this case was a murder-for-hire plot involving Markel's former in-laws. A third defendant, Luis Rivera, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is cooperating with the prosecution. 

DeCoste says the judge’s decision to keep the current trial date is unfair.

“The decisions that are being made are absolutely prejudice against Magbanua meaning that appeal on different issues is almost a certainty," he said. "That means that the court, the prosecution right now is burning massive amounts of public money to push this case to trial.”

The judge has denied the defense's request to postpone the trial several times, even after prosecutors delayed turning over key evidence.

The defense is also asking to take a deposition from the victim’s ex-wife, Wendi Adelson, before she testifies during trial. Attorney Tara Kawass says they do not want this case to be tried more than once.

“She claims that she is willing to answer questions under a state subpoena when she is giving immunity, which gives me just pause as to what it is she plans on saying on the witness stand," she said. "That in itself, if she says something that she legally is not supposed to is going to cause a mistrial.”

The decision leaves the defense little time to sort through the remaining evidence that includes text messages, videos, wiretaps, emails, and witness statements.

State attorney Georgia Cappelman says the defense is asking for evidence it does not need.

Sigfredo Garcia is accused of carrying out the shooting. Investigators say Katherine Magbanua was the person who enlisted Garcia. No Adelson family members have been charged in the case.