Criminal Justice

Third suspect is arrested in slaying of law prof Dan Markel

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Police on Saturday arrested the woman accused of acting as a go-between in the July 2014 slaying of Florida State University law professor Dan Markel.

Katherine Magbanua was arrested and charged with murder, report the Tallahassee Democrat, USA Today and ABC News.

Magbanua is the mother of two children fathered by Sigfredo Garcia, one of two alleged hit men who have already been arrested in the case. Magbanua was also romantically involved with Charlie Adelson, who is the brother of Markel’s ex-wife, Wendi Adelson, according to the probable cause affidavit (PDF).

The arrest warrant says Wendi Adelson’s parents and brother were determined to relocate her and her children to south Florida after the divorce. After exhausting legal efforts to compel Markel to allow the children to move with his wife, the family members “realized any hope of a legal remedy in their favor was futile,” the affidavit says.

Markel had filed a motion to require that the children’s visitation with Wendi’s mother be supervised, citing allegations by the children that she had called Markel “stupid” and asserted he was “taking her sunshines away from her.”

Cellphone records indicated that after Magbanua spoke with Charlie Adelson, he would typically call his mother, Donna, and Magbanua would call Garcia. In the weeks before the murder, there was “a flurry of communications between the alleged conspirators,” the affidavit says.

The affidavit alleges that Magbanua, Garcia and the third alleged hit man, Luis Rivera, were paid for their actions. Magbanua received paychecks from the dental office run by the Adelson family that were signed by Donna Adelson. There was also a “significant increase” in cash bank deposits in Magbanua’s account after the murder, the affidavit says.

Magbanua is invoking her right to remain silent, her lawyer told a judge on Sunday. Lawyer Tara Kawass said Magbanua is a single mother with no prior convictions. “There was no reason to arrest her like this,” Kawass said. “Our sole priority right now is getting her on bond so she can take care of her two kids.”

Prosecutors previously refused to issue an arrest warrant for Magbanua and Charlie Adelson, citing a lack of evidence. Lawyers for the Adelson family have said they had no role in the slaying. No Adelson family member has been arrested.

A lawyer for Charlie Adelson, David Oscar Markus, issued a statement regarding Magbanua’s arrest. “It’s sad that the police have arrested Katie when just last week the prosecution said there was no basis to proceed,” Markus said. “They are trying to pressure a single mom who has no priors by threatening to make her little kids orphans. That’s not how our criminal justice system is supposed to work. It smacks of utter desperation.”

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