Judge grants motion to combine murder trial in Markel case

Posted at 4:30 PM, Jun 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-20 16:30:00-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Wednesday, a Leon County Judge ruled to join the cases of Sigfredo Garcia and Katherine Magbanua, two of the people charged in the killing of Florida State University Law Professor Dan Markel four years ago.

This trial has been pushed back multiple times, but even at Wednesday's hearing, the judge didn't rush into his decision.

He took about a 30 minute break to read up on similar co-conspirator rulings that were presented Wednesday before he made his decision to combine the cases.

The state moved to join these trials because both defendants are charged with similar crimes and both cases will have similar evidence. However, as the defense brought up Wednesday, combining the cases now means any evidence from Garcia's case that implicates Magbanua could be inadmissible.

As he agreed to joining the trials Wednesday, the judge warned the state to be careful what you wish for, but it seems this is a challenge they're ready to tackle.

"I think regardless of the joiner, there's gonna be issues regarding statements where we're going to be litigating the admissibility of the statements, so that's not going to change," said Georgia Cappleman, Assistant State Attorney. "That may actually increase with the joiner but I still think it's beneficial to the totally of the case to streamline, make sure they're both sitting there when the jury hears the evidence, and get the best chance of a good verdict."

Now, Garcia will join Magbanua's October 8 trial date.

The defense says they may still file a future motion to separate the cases again if they feel that's the only way to get a fair trial.