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Katherine Magbanua's trial scheduled for April 2020

Posted at 6:21 AM, Oct 22, 2019
and last updated 2022-05-18 10:38:55-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Katherine Magbanua will have to spend six more months in jail before she goes to trial again.

She's accused of helping plan the murder of an FSU Law Professor in 2014.

Katherine Magbanua will have two pretrial hearings in the spring before she goes to trial for a second time April 13.

A mistrial was declared earlier this month. Now her attorneys are saying they're ready to prove their client's innocence once again.

In Magbanua's case management hearing, both of her attorneys said they'll continue to stick beside their client.

"We believe that's in the interest of judicial efficiency because any other lawyer trying to get up to speed on a case like this," said Tara Kawass, Magbanua's attorney. "But also because we do believe in the pursuit of justice and Katherine's innocence and we're going to see this fight through all the way to the end."

In the first trial, Magbanua was tried along with the father of her children Sigfredo Garcia. Next time, just her.

"Now we'll have more stuff to tell the juror to support Katherine's position that she had no idea and she was not involved," said Kawass.

A jury found Sigfredo Garcia guilty of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, but they couldn't come to an agreement on those same charges for Magbanua.

"I'm forever grateful to who ever the jurors were that were in favor of a not guilty. That is the correct verdict," said Kawass.

Kawass says her client's biggest focus right now isn't her retrial, it's seeing her children.

"She's incarcerated and she hasn't seen her children in 3 years. If she were out of custody, I think it would have a different effect because she could go home to her kids," said Kawass.

Magbanua could walk free, although her attorneys say it's not likely.

"The state has been very clear about the fact that they are willing to offer her immunity and she can go home whenever she wants, but she has to say its the Adelson's. She's not willing to lie like Luis Rivera to get out of custody," said Kawass.

Now she'll have to wait six more months before another jury decides her fate.

Magbanua is still charged with first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and solicitation to murder. If convicted, she still faces life in prison.

The trial for the third suspect accused in the Dan Markel murder case has been scheduled to start in April 2020.

At Tuesday's case management hearing, the Judge scheduled Katherine Magbanua's trial for April 13, 2020.

Magbanua is the last of three suspects accused in the murder of FSU professor Dan Markel.

The judge also scheduled her pre-trial hearings for March 17 and April 9.

Magbanua will keep her same attorneys.

The last of three suspects accused in the Dan Markel murder trial is due in court again Tuesday.

Katherine Magbanua is scheduled for a case management hearing. There are now three legal options for Magbanua:

  • Prosecutors can dismiss charges
  • They can offer a plea bargain
  • Or head to a jury trial all over again

Police charged three people with Markel's 2014 murder. Luis Rivera accepted a plea bargain in 2016.

Jurors sentenced Sigfredo Garcia to life in prison, but they were unable to agree on a verdict for Magbanua.

Prosecutors believe Dan Markel's ex-wife's family, particularly Charlie Adelson, paid both Garcia and Magbanua to kill the former Florida State law professor. We spoke with a legal expert who says the Adelson are the real target.

Defense: "Why won't you just lie and tell them that Charlie was a part of this?

Katherine: "I wish I could. Because then I wouldn't be incarcerated. And I'd be free. And I'd be with my children."

Defense: "And why haven't you done that?"

Katherine: "Because I'm telling the truth."

If Magbanua's lawyers continue to back her innocence, a retrial could move quickly. Tuesday's case management hearing begins at 10:30 a.m.

We'll bring you the latest update both online and on air.