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Florida Woman Guilty In Professor’s 'Barbaric' 2014 Murder-For-Hire Slaying

Katherine Magbanua was found guilty in the murder-for-hire killing of Florida State University law professor Dan Markel. She's now the third person convicted for their role in the plot.

By Dorian Geiger
Florida Woman Guilty In Murder-For-Hire Of Professor

A Florida woman was convicted in the 2014 murder of an esteemed legal scholar who was gunned down in a murder-for-hire plot prosecutors say was orchestrated by one of his former in-laws.

Katherine Magbanua was found guilty by a Leon County jury on Friday evening in the 2014 murder-for-hire killing of Florida State University law professor Dan Markel. She was convicted of first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation to commit murder, WTXL reported. The case was a re-trial.

Magbanua openly wept as her verdict was handed down, WCTV reported. She’s the third individual to be convicted in the assassination scheme and was remanded back into custody following the hearing. 

In July 2014, Markel was gunned down in his garage in what prosecutors now say was a murder plot conceived and funded by his former brother-in-law.

Prosecutors say Magbanua was the scheme’s intermediary between Fort Lauderdale dentist Charles “Charlie” Adelson and Sigfredo Garcia, who — with Luis Rivera — has since been convicted of carrying out the slaying. Garcia is the father of Magbanua's children; Adelson and Magbanua were romantically involved at the time, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

Police handouts of Charlie Adelson and Katherine Magbanua

Dan Markel was the former husband of Charles Adelson’s sister, Wendi Adelson.

Authorities allege Charles Adelson paid $100,000 for Markel’s assassination. Prosecutors argued that the motive for the slaying stemmed from the desire of the Adelson family for Wendi Adelson and her children to return to South Florida following her divorce from Markel, who was employed in Tallahassee, according to the newspaper. 

After Markel's murder, Fox News reports, Adelson moved back to Tallahassee and changed her children's last names from Markel to Adelson.

“[It was] very thrilling and gratifying to get some justice for Dan’s family,” lead prosecutor Georgia Cappleman said, referring to Markel’s family, following the ruling. “They’ve been through hell and back.”

State Attorney Jack Campbell said he was “very proud” of prosecutors’ work on the complex investigation. 

“There’s never been a case that had more resources brought to bare in my time in 22 years working at this,” Campbell said, according to the outlet.

His father, Phil Markel, reacted to last week’s verdict, stating he’s thankful the "wheels of justice" rotated in his family’s favor, according to WTXL.

“The jury’s conviction of Katherine Magbanua is another important step forward on the path to justice,” Orin Snyder and Matt Benjamin, attorneys representing the Markel family, also said in a joint statement after Friday’s verdict was handed down by jurors.

“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," it read, in part. "We are extremely grateful for the tireless commitment of law enforcement and the Leon County State’s Attorney’s Office."

A police handout of Sigfredo Garcia

"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,” the their statement added. “Until that day, we will continue to fight for complete justice and to spend time with with our grandchildren, Danny’s two young boys, whom we love and miss dearly.”

Rivera and Garcia are currently serving life sentences for their roles in the daytime murder, according to online prison records obtained by Oxygen.com. Charles Adelson was arrested in April on murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation to commit murder charges. His trial is pending.

Magbanua is expected to be sentenced sometime in the next month, per the Tallahassee Democrat.

The Leon County State’s Attorney’s Office didn’t immediately respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment on Monday.