Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

More On Friday's Conviction In Dan Markel's Murder: Katie Magbanua's Disastrous Decision To Testify; Pressure Builds On Her To Finger Charlie, Other Adelsons

David Lat (Original Jurisdiction), Judicial Notice (05.28.22): Convictions:

Lawyers of the Week: Georgia Cappleman and Sarah Dugan. ...
The conviction of Katie Magbanua would not have been possible without the excellent advocacy and hard work of assistant state attorneys Georgia Cappleman and Sarah Dugan. Congratulations to them on this well-deserved win, which is another step forward in the long quest to bring all of Dan Markel’s killers to justice, and thanks to Judge Robert Wheeler for running a tight ship during the trial.

Tallahassee Democrat, Katherine Magbanua Conviction 'Progress Toward Justice' for Dan Markel's Family:

Katherine Magbanua’s past, one that she tried to gloss over when she denied having a role in Dan Markel’s murder, finally caught up with her.

Her decision to testify on her own behalf backfired during her second trial when jurors late Friday night convicted her of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation of murder.

The 37-year-old took the stand Thursday for nearly five hours. During that time, she denied being involved in the plot to kill Markel and told jurors that although the evidence against her looked bad, it wasn’t as it seemed. 

Her Miami attorneys told jurors she was the victim of a “wrongful prosecution.”

While on the stand, Magbanua tried to elicit sympathy by mentioning her son’s disability, contracting COVID while behind bars awaiting trial and recalling the death of her mother while in custody. 

But jurors weren’t swayed. After roughly eight hours of deliberation, they delivered a unanimous conviction. She potentially faces decades in prison. ...

Cappleman in 2019 put gunman Sigfredo Garcia in prison for life for shooting Markel and secured a 19-year sentence for his accomplice Luis Rivera and elicited his cooperation with the investigation. She said she hopes Friday’s verdict gives Markel's family comfort in seeing the people responsible for his murder brought to justice. 

Prosecutor’s Brilliant Response to Defense Attorney's Dumb Challenge:

Gibson Dunn (@gibsondunn):

Gibson Dunn has had the privilege of representing the family of slain law professor Dan Markel since 2014. The family’s statement on today’s conviction provided by Orin Snyder and Matt Benjamin:

The jury’s conviction of Katherine Magbanua is another important step forward on the path to justice. It has been almost eight years since Danny was brutally murdered in cold blood, and it has taken a tremendous effort to get to this point. We are extremely grateful for the tireless commitment of law enforcement and the Leon County State’s Attorney’s Office. We also want to express our appreciation to the jurors for their service. Finally, we are so thankful for the support and encouragement we have received from friends and family around the world and, in particular, from the Tallahassee community that has embraced us and helped to bring about justice. As all who followed the trial know, there is more work ahead to ensure that each and every person responsible for Danny’s barbaric murder is brought to justice and held accountable. Until that day, we will continue to fight for complete justice and to spend time with our grandchildren, Danny’s two young boys, whom we love and miss dearly.

Jonathan Turley (George Washinton), The Markel Murder: The Killing of FSU Law Professor Takes Sudden Turn with Arrest of Ex-Brother-in-Law:

The conviction this week could put even greater pressure on Magbanua to cooperate against Charile Adelson.

In this trial, Rivera, who pleaded guilty to Markel’s murder, admitted that he did the murder with his childhood friend Garcia, who was also convicted. He said Garcia hired him and that Magbanua paid them upon their return to Miami from Tallahassee” “It was all paid—it was me, Sigfredo, Katie got paid.”

The question is who paid them and whether, if guilty, whether Charlie was the only Adelson in on the alleged plot.

Fox News, Hiring a Hitman: Inside a Florida Dentist's Alleged Plot to Have His Sister's Ex, a Prominent Law Professor, Killed:

Wendi Adelson took the stand in a Florida courtroom earlier this month to testify at one of the trials related to the 2014 murder of her ex-husband, law professor Dan Markel. 

"I don’t want to know what happened," she told the defense.

With her long, dirty blonde hair covering the collar of a black blazer she wore over a gray dress, her demeanor varied between the seemingly good-natured, "Who, me?"-type witness and the kind who at times grew combative, irked at the questions being thrown her way.

Adelson, a lawyer herself, testified under oath just feet from the woman accused of acting as a go-between for the woman’s ex-boyfriend, Adelson’s brother, and the men who allegedly carried out the murder. That woman, Katherine Magbanua, was convicted late Friday of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation to commit murder.

Some have speculated as to Adelson’s true involvement in the case – how much she knew before, during or after her ex‘s murder about the circumstances surrounding his execution-style death. Wendi has insisted she was not aware of any plot. ...

Regardless of whether she did or did not know of the alleged plans for Markel’s murder – and whether she likes it or not – Wendi Adelson remains at the heart of the case. ...

"For anybody to suggest that she would put her sons through such pain and horrific agony is just absurd and mean-spirited. This tragedy has had a terrible effect on Wendy and her sons," John Lauro, Wendi’s attorney, told Fox News Digital on Sunday.

He added: "[For] almost eight years now, the police have done an intensely thorough investigation of Wendi. They have found not a single email, text, recorded conversation, phone record – anything – that implicates Wendy at all. Zero … The bottom line is that if there was something that tied Wendi to this horrific crime – and there's not – we would have seen it in real evidence." ...

On the day of the murder, Wendi Adelson sat for an interview with police that lasted at least six hours and without an attorney, she has said. Lauro said she did so willingly.

"Immediately after the police went to her, Wendi sat for seven hours. Answered all the questions. Turned over her cell phone, her computer, her car, her home," Lauro, her attorney, said. "When she was told that her ex-husband had been shot and was literally dying at a hospital, she went into a stream of consciousness thought-pattern … she literally tried every way to search her memory, her thought process to assist the police in coming up with any information that that might be helpful." ...

Asked if she was "involved in the plot to kill your husband," Adelson responded: "Absolutely not."

"Did you have knowledge of the plot to kill your husband?"

"No," she said. 

Speaking to Fox News Digital on Sunday, Lauro said "one of the first things" Wendi Adelson discussed during her interview with police was the joke her brother had made. He said that further shows that any argument that Wendi could have been "somehow part of a murder-for-hire plot is absolutely ludicrous."

TaxProf Blog coverage of the Magbanua trial:

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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