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Man accused of killing Florida State University law professor to testify

Luis Rivera to testify against alleged triggerman, go-between girlfriend

Dan Markel

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The investigation into the murder of a Florida State University law professor took a dramatic turn Tuesday. One of two defendants originally charged in the case has agreed to testify for the state.

Luis Rivera, one of three people accused of murdering FSU law professor Dan Markel, has reached a plea deal. He will testify against alleged triggerman Sigfredo Garcia and the alleged go-between girlfriend, Katherine Magbanua.

"He was the driver. He assisted in providing the firearm, the transportation," prosecutor Georgia Cappleman said.

"In this you agree that you are going to cooperate and testify truthfully. Do you understand that?" a circuit judge asked.

"Yes, sir," Rivera said.

Rivera has been locked up since his arrest last year, in which he pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge in federal court in Fort Lauderdale. He was sentenced to more than 12 1/2 years in federal prison on the unrelated charge.

Under the deal, Rivera will finish his federal prison sentence, then he will come into state prison for another seven.

State Attorney Willie Meggs said he had to make a deal with the devil to move the case forward.

"We knew we needed to give up something, and we did," Meggs said.

Rivera can identify Magbanua as the conduit between the hit man and the family of the law professor's ex-wife.

There is also new video of an undercover officer approaching Adelson family matriarch Donna Adelson, claiming to be Rivera's brother, handing her a sheet of paper and asking for money to keep quiet about the murder. The Adelsons are the victim's in-laws.

No money was ever paid, but the confrontation led to a recorded meeting in which Donna Adelson's son, Charlie, told Magbanua that she should find someone to kill the agent or he would find someone to do it.

Meggs was asked about the ex-wife's involvement.

"We're not sure where it will lead us, but we are on the trail," Meggs said.

Wendi Adelson told police she was driving through her ex-husband's neighborhood shortly after the murder, saying she stopped at a nearby liquor store to prepare for a party later that night.

Police have not yet located the gun used in the killing. Garcia, the accused triggerman, is due in court for a previously scheduled hearing Friday.