TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Katherine Magbanua returned to the courtroom Monday for her retrial. She's accused of linking her boyfriend at the time, Charlie Adelson, with her ex-boyfriend, Sigfredo Garcia to kill Adelson's ex brother-in-law Dan Markel.
100 potential jurors were called with the goal of finding at least 60 people capable of being impartial. The jury selection pool is larger than normal, because the court feels this trial is slightly different from others.
"This case has at times received a fair amount of publicity. And we need to ask you about that individually. So this is going to be an individual voir dire. And it takes some time. And, and I apologize for that. But it's the only way that we can do it. We have to talk to each one of you individually, and that's because you don't need to know what your neighbor knows about this particular case," said Judge Robert Wheeler.
Florida State University Law professor Dan Markel was shot and killed in his driveway July 18th, 2014. The man who pulled the trigger, Luis Rivera, accepted a guilty plea two years later. In 2019, Magbanua and Sigfredo Garcia went to trial together. While a jury found Garcia guilty, they couldn't come to an agreement about Magbanua.
She's on trial again, facing first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and solicitation to commit murder. Charlie Adelson was arrested for murder last month.
Before breaking to speak about the case with jurors individually, Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman provided the jury with a brief overview of what this trial is about.
"This case involves the murder of Daniel Markel. Markel was shot and killed in his driveway in the Betton Hills neighborhood on July 18, 2014. Markel was a professor at the Florida State University College of Law. It's alleged that this defendant was a member of a conspiracy to murder Markel, which included the family of his former wife and the people who traveled to Tallahassee to kill him," said Cappleman.
ABC 27 was able to sit in on some of the juror questioning. Some said they believe Magbanua is guilty and nothing will change their minds. Others said they're open to changing their opinions, an admission that was enough for the judge and attorneys to keep them in consideration. The majority said they know minimal or nothing about the case, adding they can be a fair juror.
Tuesday morning, about 60 of those potential jurors will return to the court room. The court intends to whittle that number down to 12 juror and four alternates.
The goal is to begin opening arguments by Tuesday afternoon.