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Magbanua trial days 7 and 8 recap: wiretaps, a meeting at a Miami restaurant, and Magbanua testifies

Katherine Magbanua in black looking toward her attorney
Chasity Maynard
Tallahassee Democrat Pool
Katherine Magbanua speaks to her defense attorney Christopher DeCoste as Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman delivers her closing argument on Friday, May 27, 2022, in the retrial of Magbanua for the 2014 murder of Dan Markel in Tallahassee, Fla.

Wiretapped phone calls between Charlie Adelson and his mother Donna, and Katherine Magbanua speaking with her former boyfriend Sigfredo Garcia, were featured in the last two days Magbanua’s trial.

She’s accused of being the go-between for the Adelson family, and the hitmen who killed a former Florida State Law professor Dan Markel. Magbanua herself took the stand Thursday in her own defense.

The state has pointed to cash deposits post-murder Magbanua made to her accounts, in addition to income from what they say was a fake job she never worked with the Adelson’s dental practice, as evidence of her involvement. Magbanua’s relationship with Charlie Adelson along with convicted shooter Sigfredo Garcia have been highlighted throughout the trial. The calls were made post “The Bump” — the moment an undercover FBI agent gave Donna Adelson a flyer with Markel’s face on it, and a phone number to call.

During her testimony, Magbanua said her employment with the Adelson dental practice was done in order to get health insurance for her children. She maintains the money she earned from that job did not come from a murder-for-hire. The state has pointed to an influx of cash to Magbanua from Adelson after Markel’s death as evidence that she was involved.

“You wouldn’t agree to be put on the payroll if you were involved in a homicide?” asked Defense attorney Tara Kawass.

“No’ ma’am,” Magbanua replied.

“Because that’s just stupid?” said Kawass.

“Yes, ma’am,” answered Magbanua.

Magbanua says she lied to Charlie about the times she went to the office, but that she helped manage his rental home website, spoke with tenants and collected rent Magbanua says their relationship fizzled out shortly after Markel’s death, though the two remained friendly.

On that meeting at the Dolce Vita restaurant—which investigators were only recently able to decipher and which led to Adelson’s arrest last month, Magbanua says Adelson never mentioned a murder.

“Did he mention Tallahassee? Did he mention a Murder? Did he mention Dan Markel? Did he mention Wendi’s ex-husband?” asked Kawass.

“No Ma’am,” Magbanua said.

“Had he said murder to you, would you have remembered?” said Kawass. “Yes ma’am, it would have stuck out,” Magbanua replied.

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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