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Opening statements made in Dan Markel murder trial

Posted at 5:19 PM, Sep 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-26 17:19:17-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — After five years of waiting, justice for Florida State University Law Professor Dan Markel is underway.

Markel was shot in his driveway in 2014. After three days of jury selection, trial officially got underway Thursday.

Sigfredo Garcia and Katherine Magbanua are now standing trial for the crime. They're charged with first degree murder, solicitation to commit murder, and conspiracy to commit murder in his death.

The third suspect, Luis Rivera, pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Although this is a case against Sigfredo Garcia and Katherine Magbanua, the name Luis Rivera came up just as much those of the two defendants.

"Dan Markel, father of two young boys and highly respected lawyer was shot twice in the head in his own home in broad daylight," said Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman.

As the trial five years in the making finally began, Cappleman laid out her theory behind FSU Law Professor Dan Markel's death.

"Katherine Magbanua was hired to solicit Garcia who in turn solicited Rivera to come to Tallahassee and kill Dan Markel in cold blood," said Cappleman.

The state arguing that this was all the result of a bad divorce.

"Wendi Adelson has a problem. That problem was named Dan Markel. And the solution to that problem was Garcia, Rivera, and Magbanua," said Cappleman.

A notion that the defense finds a problem with.

"Their focus in this case is on the Adelsons. Donna Adelson, Charlie Adelson, and Wendy Adelson. That's who their real targets are. So what do they do? They go after the low-hanging fruit," said Saam Zangeneh, Attorney for Sigfredo Garcia.

That low hanging fruit in Zangeneh's theory is Sigfredo Garcia, Katherine Magbanua, and Luis Rivera.

"Seven years. Seven years in Florida State Prison. That's what Luis Rivera got in exchange for his participation in a first-degree murder case," said Zangeneh.

Garcia's attorney calling Luis Rivera's plea deal, the "deal of the century."

He also argues that Rivera is unreliable because of his cooperation with the state. The same argument coming from Katherine Magbanua's defense team.

"This murderer is going to get out of jail free probably before he's even 50," said Tara Kawass, Attorney for Katherine Magbanua.

Kawass opening her argument that her client is only guilty of one thing.

"Her major downfall is her taste in men. The only thing she is guilty of is having horrible taste in men," said Kawass.

The attorneys also questioned some witnesses including the two men who called the police after the shooting.