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Day Seven: Jurors Hear Wire-Tapped Calls Between Suspects In Markel Murder Trial

Katherine Magbanua speaking to her attorney Tara Kawass Thursday, Sept. 27, 2019, in Tallahassee, Florida, during the murder trial for Markel's death.
Alicia Devine, Pool
Tallahassee Democrat

Prosecutors in the murder trial for Florida State University law Professor Dan Markel say his former in-laws and the people accused of the slaying discussed the plot in code across a series of text messages and phone calls.

Katherine Magbanua, Sigfredo Garcia, Charlie and Donna Adelson can be heard, at different points, discussing real estate transactions, and asking about a phone number likely tied to one planted by FBI investigators. In one call, Magbanua asks about a real estate agent showing a property and needing a correct phone number. 

“I know you were telling me something about the client, but I got it mixed up," Magbanua tells Charlie Adelson during the call. "I’m calling both numbers but no one is picking up…or I can set up with a realtor to show the property."

Shortly after that call, the state plays another, in which Charlie Adelson contacts his mother Donna to ask about the phone number. 

“Do you remember the number that was written on that paper the other day, ‘cause I have it at home," he asks. Donna says she doesn't remember the number and didn't write it down. “Okay,’ cause someone just called me asking for it because they thought they remembered it, but evidently, they remembered it wrong," Charlie says. 

That someone was Katherine Magbanua. Ahead of the calls, an undercover police officer had delivered a letter with Markel’s face on it and a phone number to a condo owned by Donna Adelson, but no one ever called the line.

FBI Investigators told the court Monday that no one in the calls directly discussed the case. Attorneys for Magbanua and Sigfredo Garcia claim the messages are taken out of context. The South Florida couple is accused of carrying out Dan Markel’s murder in 2014. His in-laws, Chalie and Donna Adelson, haven’t been charged in the case. The state believes they paid Garcia, Magbanua and a third man to kill Markel over a child custody dispute. A jury could begin deliberations as soon as Wednesday.

Follow @HatterLynn

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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