Paul L. Caron

Saturday, December 17, 2016

'The Prosecution Does Not Believe That Wendi Ordered The Hit' On Dan Markel

AdelsonFollowing up on Wednesday's post, Does The Prosecution Believe (And Can It Prove) That Wendi Adelson (And Not Charlie Or Donna) Hired Katherine Magbanua And Sigfredo Garcia To Kill Dan Markel?:  David Lat (Above the Law), The Dan Markel Case: Slow Your Roll On Wendi Adelson:

[I]s Wendi a murderess? I have defended her against speculation that she knew about or was involved in Danny’s killing, but I know that many readers hold different opinions. ...

[A] number of readers have excitedly shared with me this account of last Friday’s bail hearing for Katherine Magbanua, posted over at Websleuths by “reallybusy,” who attended in person. The juiciest part:

The prosecution made it a point to say in closing arguments “Wendi Adelson” hired KM and SG to commit the murder. No mention of Donna or Charlie. This was important because of all the speculation prior that Wendi was unaware and this murderous act was carried out on her behalf without her knowledge. The prosecution made a crystal clear point that Wendi ordered the hit.

This claim has been picked up by writers and commenters on several other widely read blogs, including TaxProf Blog (Paul Caron) and Jonathan Turley (in the comments). But is it an accurate representation of what the prosecution claimed at the hearing?

Alas, no. I reached out to Georgia Cappleman, the prosecutor who delivered the closing statement in question. She said the correct version of her comment is what appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat:

It was always clear to [Rivera] that Katie [Magbanua] was the link to the Adelsons. Katie was the one who was hiring them to come to Tallahassee and commit the murder on behalf of Wendi so she could have the children all to herself.

Looking at this wording, with the word “hiring” in close proximity to “Wendi,” one can easily see how a listener — especially a “motivated” listener, i.e., someone believing in Wendi’s guilt — could have heard the prosecution accusing Wendi. But that’s not what Cappeleman said at last Friday’s bond hearing. As Cappleman explained to me, summarizing her prior in-court statements:

Rivera believed he was being hired by Wendi Adelson to kill Markel and that the murder was for her benefit. However, he had no direct communication with Wendi. Rather, this is his belief based on the circumstances and what [fellow defendant Sigfredo] Garcia told him.

I do not have any evidence that Wendi ordered the hit other than Rivera’s belief. ...

The prosecution does not believe Wendi ordered the hit, at least not at the current time, and the source who reported otherwise is not 100 percent sure of what he or she heard.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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AGAIN, why doesn't somebody order a transcript of the proceedings? That would solve the speculation.

Posted by: Sandy Pister | Dec 21, 2016 9:59:08 PM

From the day Markel was murdered, David Lat has been on a zealous crusade to absolve Wendi of any complicity whatsoever. If Wendi walked into the Tallahassee PD to surrender and confess, Lat would claim it was all a sham. Take what Lat says with a grain of salt.

Posted by: Tyler | Dec 19, 2016 9:13:42 AM

Why doesn't somebody order a transcript of the proceedings and find out FOR SURE what was said instead of speculating?

Posted by: Sandy Pister | Dec 18, 2016 11:15:29 AM

Did Henry II order the hit on Thomas Beckett, Archbishop of Canterbury?

Who will rid me of this troublesome [ex-husband]?

Posted by: curmudgeoninchief | Dec 17, 2016 7:48:08 AM

If the prosecution said that Lat should provide a quote. Lawyers know the difference between current evidence and belief. Sloppy biased writing or just a missing quote?

Posted by: Anon2009 | Dec 17, 2016 5:22:40 AM

David Lat claims that, but I'm not sure on what basis

Posted by: Anon2009 | Dec 17, 2016 4:38:28 AM

Agreed. Presuming Rivera is telling the truth (and he's not the primary hit man hired ... and he then hired Garcia) this could very well be his presumptions based on what he heard and saw and the source it came from. And, if he trusted Garcia (and Magbanua) they why would he doubt them? Quite simply ... he wouldn't. Understood.

Thus, at best .... Wendi may or may not be involved.

Posted by: John Smith | Dec 17, 2016 4:36:17 AM

I don't see any information at all on whether the prosecution BELIEVES this.

Posted by: Anon2009 | Dec 17, 2016 4:17:38 AM