Florida man Sigfredo Garcia, 37, is being sentenced in Leon County, Florida over the death of Florida State University Law Professor Dan Markel, 41. Jurors found him guilty on Friday of first-degree murder, and conspiracy to commit murder. They were stuck on whether co-defendant and the mother of his children Katherine Magbanua, 35, actually played a role. That case ended in a mistrial due to the jury remaining deadlocked, even after the judge encouraged them via an Allen Charge.
Garcia faces a possible death sentence.
The victim was shot twice in the garage of his home on July 18, 2014, prosecutors said. The state’s theory is that this happened because of his ugly divorce from ex-wife Wendi Adelson. Her family was pushing to get the pair’s sons moved to South Florida, but Markel stood in the way. Prosecutors suggested that Adelson’s brother Charlie Adelson hired Garcia through Magbanua. Garcia, in return, recruited friend Luis Rivera to help commit the deed, the state said. Rivera pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is set to spend 17 years in prison concurrently with a 12-year sentence for racketeering.
Garcia’s defense argued that this defendant hated Charlie Adelson too much to ever help him kill anyone. After all, Magbanua left the defendant and ended up dating Adelson. They argued that Rivera falsely implicated the defendants. Charlie Adelson hired Rivera and only him to kill Markel, lawyer Saam Zangeneh said in opening statements.
None of the victim’s in-laws have been charged in this case. They’ve denied wrongdoing. Wendi Adelson testified at the Gacia-Magbanua trial under immunity.
[Mugshot via Broward County]