What You Need To Know About The Murder Trial For FSU Law Professor Dan Markel

Sep 30, 2019

The trial for the slaying of Florida State University Law Professor Dan Markel is underway. Here's a primer on what the case is about, and what to expect when lawyers and defendants return to the courtroom Tuesday. 

Credit Tom Flanigan / WFSU-FM

  •   Who was Dan Markel?

Blaise Gainey: "Dan Markel was a Canadian Harvard Graduate, a single father of two, and a Professor of Law at Florida State University. In 2013  [he] was shot and killed while sitting in his driveway. The state attorney office believes it was a murder-for-hire plot paid for by his ex-wife’s family [the Adelson's]. They believe Donna Adelson, [Wendi Adelson's] mother, is the one who orchestrated everything."

  • How long is this trial supposed to last?

BG: "The trial is supposed to last three weeks." 

  • Last week, Markel’s ex-wife, Wendi Adelson testified. What did she have to say?

BG: "Very little, I’d say. She couldn’t remember much of what took place between her and Markel during their divorce. She did admit that her brother mentioned putting a hit on Dan Markel, but she said it was in a joking manner, and added that he often tells jokes that aren’t that funny. She stated that her parents didn’t like him because they believe Markel was treating her badly during the divorce. But, she also doesn’t think anyone in her family has anything to do with his death. We also learned that she stripped the children of Markel’s last name." 

  • Wendi Adelson’s family members, Donna and Charlie Adelson, both have been implicated in this case. Why is that? And what’s the situation with Wendi Adelson’s immunity deal?

BG: "Her immunity deal saves her from anything she says in court [being] held against her. But, she can still be prosecuted if she had anything to do with these crimes. As for Charlie and Donna Adelson, they haven’t been involved in the case. It’s believed they’ve been subpoenaed, but haven’t had to answer any questions from the law."

  • What has state prosecutors said about them? Will they be charged or has the state not said?

BG: "So they haven’t said that they [the Adelson's] will be charged. I think it’s clear they [the state] thinks this was paid for by the Adelson family and they want to do something. But in 2016, when [former] State Attorney Willie Meggs was approached with probable cause affidavits, he said it was speculation at the time. Now, since then more information has come out and I’m waiting to speak with someone in the state attorney’s office to see what will happen." 

  • What has the defense said about Katherine Magbanua and Sigfredo Garcia’s roll in this? Sigfredo Garcia has been implicated as the gunman and Katherine Magbanua was allegedly dating Charlie Adelson at the time and she’s being fingered as sort of the person who fostered the transaction.

BG: "Magbanua’s defense attorneys claim she was not a part of this. That it would be wild to believe she would ask her children’s father to kill her current boyfriend’s sister’s ex-husband. And Sigfredo Garcia’s attorney basically says Garcia didn’t shoot Markel, and that there has been no murder weapon found to prove he was the trigger man." 

  • Today [Tuesday] Luis Rivera is expected to testify what is his relation to the case and what is he expected to say?

BG: "He’s expected to pretty much say exactly what I told you today, that this was a murder-for-hire plot. He  [says he] found out while he and Sigfredo were driving the green Prius up to Tallahassee that they were supposed to be murdering Dan Markel for his child’s mother’s boyfriend, a very weird situation. But he is doing this because he has a plea deal. He’s accepted a 19-year plea deal which seems lengthy, but runs concurrently with a 12-year sentence he was already serving for racketeering charges in relation to gang activity."