A South Florida woman who participated in a murder-for-hire scheme that led to the shooting death of a local law professor has been given a life sentence in prison with additional time. Katherine Magbanua was given two consecutive 30-year prison terms in addition to a life sentence without the chance of parole or probation on Friday morning. Magbanua, 37, was found guilty in May of soliciting a murder, conspiring to commit a murder, and first-degree murder. The men who were reportedly paid by her ex-boyfriend, dentist Charlie Adelson, to kill Florida State University law professor Daniel “Danny” Markel eight years ago, according to the prosecution, used her as a go-between.
The Tallahassee Democrat reported that Magbanua’s attorney, Tara Kawass, had pleaded for the least severe punishment available. She gave a statement to the court on behalf of her client, Kawass, in which she stated: “She does worry about Dan Markel and his kids on a daily basis. She never fails to say how deeply sorry she is for the Markel family. I can say that one thing Ms. Magbanua wishes and prays for is that justice is being served in this matter and that it has not yet been done. She also wants to see that everyone who had a part in it or knows anything about it is held to account.
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Markel, a well-known attorney, was fatally shot in his automobile on July 18, 2014. He had just gone through a bitter divorce with Wendi Adelson. In court records, the two had argued and sparred over a number of matters, including Wendi’s decision to leave Tallahassee in order to be nearer to her family in south Florida. According to a probable cause document posted online in 2016, Tallahassee Police Department investigators claimed Markel dropped his kids off at daycare about 8:50 a.m., about five miles from his home, and then travelled to Premier Health and Fitness Center, where he arrived at around 9:12 a.m.
Police discovered that a Toyota Prius had “followed Markel’s car” both before and after his time in the gym, as well as into the fitness center’s parking lot. The victim was shot in the head while he sat in his car, according to the affidavit. “Investigators believe the suspects in the Prius followed the victim throughout the morning and back to this location,” it says. A little silver or light-colored car like a Prius was seen backing out of the victim’s driveway by Markel’s neighbour, who heard what he thought to be a gunshot and peered out the window.
Despite being taken to a nearby hospital, Markel was not able to be saved. Magbanua shared a home with Sigfredo Garcia, one of the alleged gunmen, and had two children with him. She had previously been in a relationship with Charlie Adelson and had previously worked for the dentistry practise owned by Adelson’s relatives.
In June 2016, charges against Garcia and his alleged accomplice, Luis Rivera, were brought. A few months later, in October 2016, Magbanua was detained. Garcia has appealing his conviction after being found guilty of first-degree murder in 2019. Rivera admitted guilt in relation to second-degree murder. 45-year-old Charlie Adelson was detained in April 2022 after a grand jury indicted him. He was accused of soliciting murder, first-degree murder, and conspiracy to commit murder. His defence was not guilty.