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Magbanua's retrial in Dan Markel murder case will go forward May 16

A woman in a gray suit and glasses sits in a courtroom
Tallahassee Democrat (pool)

The retrial for Katherine Magbanua will go ahead starting May 16. Magbanua is accused of acting as the go-between for the Adelson family, and the hired hitmen who killed Florida State University law professor Dan Markel in 2014.

Attorneys for Magbanua are asking the courts to throw out a newly enhanced audio recording that shows her and Charlie Adelson, the brother of Markel's ex-wife Wendi Adelson, discussing a potential blackmail situation in 2016 at a Miami restaurant. Undercover agents had visited Adelson's mother recently and handed her a flyer about the case.

Prosecutors have had the tape—recorded by undercover FBI agents—for years, but only recently were able to decipher some of the audio. That recording led prosecutors to recently arrest and charge Adelson with first-degree murder and other charges.

Magbanua is accused of acting as the go-between for Adelson, who she previously dated, and convicted shooters Sigfredo Garcia—the father of her children—and Luis Rivera.

Her attorneys call the undercover FBI recording hearsay, and argue it shouldn’t be allowed in her upcoming retrial. The attorneys are taking issue with the use of captions of the audio which they say are inaccurate and misleading. Even though the newest version of the audio is clearer, parts of the conversation are still difficult to make out.

Magbanua was tried alongside Garcia in 2019, and while he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, the jury couldn’t reach a decision on Magbanua. She is set to go to trial again on May 16.

Markel was shot to death inside his car parked at his Betton Hills home.