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Murder indictment issued for mom in connection with FSU professor's death

Katherine Magbanua accused of acting as go-between

Leon County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Katherine Magbanua
Leon County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Katherine Magbanua

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A grand jury in the state capital issued a first-degree murder indictment Tuesday for a 31-year-old mother of two, who is accused of acting as the go-between in the murder-for-hire of a Florida State University law professor.

Prosecutors hope the indictment of Katherine Magbanua will lead investigators to others responsible for the professor’s death.
  
Renowned FSU professor Dan Markel was shot point-blank in the head about 2½ years ago, as he sat in his car in an upscale Tallassee neighborhood. In June, two men were charged with the crime.
                                                                                                                                                                               
One of them, Luis Rivera, cut a deal in which he agreed to “cooperate and testify truthfully.”

Rivera’s cooperation led to charges against Magbanua, the mother of accused hitman Sigrid Garcia’s children and the former girlfriend of Charlie Adelson, the brother-in-law of the slain professor.

Investigators believe the entire Adelson family, including Markel’s ex-wife, Wendi, her brother, Charlie, and their parents, knew about the plot.

Prosecutors hope indicting Magbanua with first-degree murder will convince her to cooperate, as well.

“That’s the only person we are asking them to consider today,” Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman said. “She could be (the key to further arrests in the case).”

Rivera agreed to tell his story to grand jurors. In police video, he testified that he, Garcia and Magbanua split $100,000 for the hit.

“That’s when he said we were coming to kill somebody,” Rivera said.

State Attorney Willie Meggs leaves office in January.

“I don’t know where it will go, but we will follow it wherever it goes,” Meggs said.

Police said the motive for the hit was a bitter custody fight over the couple’s two children.

In addition to the admitted hitman, grand jurors heard from a police investigator and an FBI agent who conducted phone taps on Magbanua and Garcia.