Why Were Sealed Markel Documents Released?

Dan Markel
Posted at 5:00 PM, Jun 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-03 13:57:24-04

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- Moments before accused murderer Sigfredo Garcia's first court appearance, previously confidential court documents in the case were unsealed.

The documents shed light on how investigators connected Garcia and Luis Rivera to Dan Markel's murder.

Thursday, Tallahassee police chief Michael DeLeo explained why the department preferred the records stay sealed.

"The longer things are confidential, it makes our job a little bit easier -- as opposed to trying to track people down and then not know what we're looking at specifically," he said.

But now, those records have been made public -- exposing how the family of Markel's ex-wife was connected to his murder as a "hit for hire."

According to city manager Rick Fernandez, unsealing those documents them wasn't planned.

In an email thursday to the city commission, he wrote, "We don't yet know who requested this action, nor were we provided the opportunity to argue against the release of the records. Highly unusual on all fronts."

Fernandez was out of town Friday and unavailable for comment.

On May 26, a judge granted a request by the Tallahassee Police Department to seal Garcia's probable cause affidavit. But just a week later, that same judge unsealed the records.

The state attorney's office declined to go on camera, but said there was no formal request to unseal the documents -- and that the judge most likely released the records on his own, to satisfy growing public interest.

WTXL has reached out to the judge for comment but have not heard back yet.

The police department says it won't comment further about the investigation, until an update has been made.

The department says it only filed a motion to seal Garcia's records, not those of Rivera.

A warrant has been issued to release Rivera from federal custody to be booked in Leon County. As of now, his records are not public, because the warrant hasn't been executed.


Timeline of Details in Dan Markel Murder Investigation


Documents released on Friday show that police wanted to keep reports surrounding Garcia's arrest sealed out of fear that unnamed co-defendants would learn more about the investigation and possibly flee the country.

Those documents even say that police believed the possible co-defendants had the finances to leave permanently and that they had already discovered there were talks of them leaving.

Officers also say in the document that the information could also jeopardize the safety of witnesses.

You can read the full document below: