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Markel Murder Trial Delayed Again

A judge signs papers with a gavel on the desk.
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The trial for the murder of Dan Markel, a Florida State University law professor, has been delayed less than two weeks before it was scheduled to start.

New evidence led Leon Circuit Judge James Hankinson to push back the trial yet again. Prosecutors announced Thursday they’ve unlocked the cellphone of one of Markel’s alleged murderers.

Law enforcement began analyzing Katherine Magbanua’s cellphone after a search warrant was approved last week.

Attorneys worry the data contains privileged information between Magbanua and her lawyer. Hankinson is directing the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to analyze the data. A state attorney from outside the circuit will be present. A judge from another circuit will handle any legal issues that arise.

Hankinson set a case management hearing for June 18th to allow both sides to look over the new data.

Magbanua and Sigfredo Garcia were set to stand trial for Markel’s murder on June 3rd.

Magbanua was previously denied a delay earlier this week. Her lawyers argued prosecutors hadn't turned over all evidence. Hankinson gave the state until Friday to do so.

This is the third time the trial has been postponed. It was originally set for February 2018. But it was pushed to give lawyers more time to study the evidence. Then, last September, it was delayed again while Magbanua’s attorney underwent medical treatment.

Shawn Mulcahy is a reporter and All Things Considered host for WFSU. He graduated from Florida State University in 2019 with majors in public relations and political science. He was previously an intern at WFSU, and worked as an Account Coordinator at RB Oppenheim Associates.