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Day 9: Magbanua Proclaims Her Innocence In Markel Murder

Katherine Magbanua says she had nothing to do with the 2014 murder of a Florida State University Law Professor. She took the stand Wednesday on the 9th day of the trial for slain law professor Dan Markel.

Magbanua and her ex-boyfriend Sigfredo Garcia are accused of carrying out a murder for hire plot allegedly planned by Markel’s former in-laws. But Magbanua says she knew nothing of Markel's murder and only heard about it after the fact.

She also notes her relationship with then-boyfriend Charlie Adelson, was tumultuous. She describes Markel's former brother-in-law as being prone to grandious ideas, a drug user, and having a tendancy to go off on tangents during conversations. Magbanua says she often felt frustrated. And, after Markel's death, she says Charlie Adelson's behavior became more erratic.

“Based on everything you’ve seen, do you think Charlie was involved in this?" Magbanua's attorney, Tara Kawass asked. “Yes," Magbanua said.

Magbanua says she met Wendi Adelson- Markel's ex-wife and Charlie's sister--only once, and that Wendi Adelson nor her parents Donna and Harvey Adelson, discussed Wendi's contentious divorce from Dan Markel, and she says Charlie Adelson rarely brought it up to her.

The state has charged Magbanua as the go-between for the Adelson's and accused shooter Sigfredo Garcia, Magbanua's ex and father of her kids. According to prosecutors, Magbanua, Garcia and a third man were paid to kill Markel, and the state points to a series of money transactions and phone calls as evidence of a conspiracy. But Magbanua says her money came from  her job at a local nightclub. And that the breast implants she got shortly after Markel died was paid for by cash tips she recieved--not from Charlie Adelson, as the state has claimed.

She did admit to speaking in code on certain recorded phone calls, but says that was because her kids were around her at the time.  Throughout the trial, the state has sought to tie Magbanua, Garcia and the Adelson's together. 

"Do you think Charlie was lying to you?" asked Kawass.  Magbanua says looking back on the events of the past few years, coupled with the evidence presented during the trial, that she does. 

Final arguments are slated for Thursday, and jury deliberations should begin shortly thereafter. 

Garcia did not testify in his defense. If the two are convicted they could face life in prison. Garcia could face the death penalty. No members of the Adelson family have been charged or arrested in the case. Makel was embroiled in a bitter custody battle with his ex-wife and in-laws at the time of his killing. 

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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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