58ºF

Trial pushed back for man accused in FSU professor's death

Sigfredo Garcia's next court appearance scheduled for December

Dan Markel
Dan Markel

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The trial for one of the suspects in the high-profile murder case of Florida State University law professor Dan Markel has been pushed back.

Sigfredo Garcia appeared in Leon County court Monday morning -- the first appearance he’s made since another suspect, Luis Rivera, took a plea deal. Garcia’s attorneys asked for a delay in the trial.

"The perception of the case has changed from a circumstantial case that relied on tangible evidence to now someone’s testimony, so now it’s going to be our job to investigate that person and find out what we can find out," said Sa'am Zangeneh, Garcia's attorney.

Garcia’s next court appearance will be in December. No new trial date has been set.

Rivera agrees to testify for state

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

Rivera has been locked up since his arrest last year, when 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, and then he will come into state prison for another seven years.

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