A South Florida woman will serve the rest of her life in prison for her part in a murder-for-hire plot after the shooting death of a local law professor.
Katherine Magbanua was sentenced on Friday to life in prison without the possibility of probation or parole, as well as two consecutive 30-year prison terms. Magbanua, 37, was convicted in May of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and solicitation to commit murder.
Prosecutors say she acted as the messenger for her ex-boyfriend, dentist Charlie Adelson, and the men he allegedly hired to kill Florida State University law professor Daniel “Danny” Markel eight years ago.
Magbanua’s attorney, Tara Kawass, had asked for the lightest possible sentence, but that was denied, the New York Post reported.
Kawass read a statement on her client’s behalf, saying: “She does think about Dan Markel every single day, She does think about his kids every single day. … Not a day goes by that she’s doesn’t express how her heart is broken for the Markel family. One thing that I can say that Ms. Magbanua hopes and prays for is that justice is ongoing and has not been reached in this case, and she wants each and every person who had a hand in this and knows something about this to be brought to justice.”
Markel, a prominent lawyer, was on the heels of a contentious divorce with Adelson’s sister, Wendi, when he was fatally gunned down in his car in July 2014. The pair had disagreed and sparred in court documents over certain issues, mainly, Wendi’s relocation from Tallahassee to be closer to her family in south Florida.
Tallahassee Police Department investigators said Markel dropped his children off at daycare a little before 9:00 a.m. and then made his way to Premier Health and Fitness Center around 9:12 a.m., according to a probable cause affidavit that was shared online in 2016.
Police say a Toyota Prius had followed the victim not only into the facility’s parking lot but was also “trailing Markel’s car” before and after his time in the gym.
“Investigators believe the suspects in the Prius followed the victim throughout the morning and back to this residence, where the victim was shot in the head as he sat in his car,” the affidavit states. “Markel’s neighbor heard what he believed to be a gunshot and looked out the window, where he saw a small silver or light-colored vehicle, resembling a Prius, backing out of the victim’s driveway.”
Markel was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Magbanua lived with one of the accused gunmen, Sigfredo Garcia, and they shared two children. She had previously had a relationship with Charlie Adelson and was a former employee at Adelson’s family’s dental office.
Garcia and his alleged accomplice, Luis Rivera, were both charged in June 2016. Magbanua was arrested months later. Garcia was convicted in 2019 of first-degree murder and has appealed his conviction.
Rivera pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Charlie Adelson, age 45, was arrested in April 2022 following his indictment and was eventually charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and solicitation to commit murder. He pleaded not guilty.