Confessed killer makes bombshell claim in murder of Dan Markel
10/17/2016 11:14 am PDT
UPDATE JUNE 4, 2019:
Kristen Kawass, a Miami attorney representing Katherine Magbanua, told the First District Court of Appeal Wednesday, May 29, 2019, that Dan Markel's ex-wife, Wendi Adelson, should be required to appear for deposition before the trial.
Crime Watch Daily has an explosive interview just released in the high-profile murder case of Dan Markel, a Florida State University professor who was gunned down in what police call a murder-for-hire plot. Now one of the men convicted in the crime is giving up new details of who he says was behind the hit.
A man has been assassinated in broad daylight, and three people are now under arrest. But are they all just pawns in someone else's game?
Just over a week ago, we brought you breaking news out of Florida of another arrest made in the shocking murder of criminal law professor Dan Markel, gunned down in his own driveway while talking on the phone with a friend.
Now, there's been another huge break. As part of a plea deal finalized just days ago, one of the two men arrested for the murder has agreed to tell detectives everything he knows, and Crime Watch Daily has the full confession.
Luis Rivera is seen in a surveillance photo driving alleged trigger-man Sigfredo Garcia from the hit in July 2014.
He says his involvement began weeks before the actual murder, when he was approached by Garcia to join him on a seven-hour drive from Miami to Tallahassee, Florida. Rivera says Garcia told him they were hired to kill beloved father of two young boys and renowned scholar, Dan Markel.
But just who was the person doing the hiring? Rivera said it was Katie Magbanua. She made her very first court appearance just days ago. Katie was also charged with Markel's murder after Rivera started talking, and after police discovered she is the mother of the accused shooter's two children.
Plus, in what prosecutors believe is no coincidence, she worked at a dental clinic owned and operated by the victim's in-laws, Harvey Adelson, his wife Donna, and son Charlie. More on that connection in a moment.
According to Rivera, Katie is the one who reached out to Garcia to do the hit in the first place. But was she really the one pulling the strings?
Shortly after the murder, police zeroed in on who seemed like a logical suspect: Daniel's ex-wife, Wendi Adelson. During her interview with detectives, Wendi fully admits she and Markel were embroiled in a nasty divorce and custody battle over their two kids, and the rest of her family had gotten involved.
According to police records, Dan's in-laws even discussed offering him a million bucks to let Wendi take the kids and move. Wendi also talked about how much her brother Charlie, in particular, disliked Dan. It was enough at the time for police to take a hard look at the Adelsons. However, all denied their involvement, and no arrests were ever made.
But that was before Luis Rivera's confession. He says Katie manipulated the father of her children, Sigfredo Garcia, into doing the crime.
Dentist Charlie Adleson, Wendi Adelson's brother, was also Katie Magbanua's employer and boyfriend at the time of the murder, and the man who not long after the killing helped her purchase brand new breast implants.
During his interrogation, Luis Rivera implicated Wendi Adleson, Dan Markel's ex-wife.
Because of previous testimony made by Rivera, Katie Magbanua is now behind bars, and with this new confession the case against Sigfredo Garcia, who has pleaded not guilty to the murder, seems stronger than ever.
In a probable cause affidavit for Katherine Magbanua released to Crime Watch Daily, prosecutors lay out their theory of the murder.
After her divorce from Dan Markel, it's alleged that Wendi Adelson and her parents, Harvey and Donna Adelson, as well as her brother Charlie, were determined to relocate Wendi's two Markel children to South Florida. The report goes on to show a series of back-and-forth calls between various members of the Adelsons and Katherine Magbanua in the hours before and after the murder.
In addition, the record shows that since Markel's murder, Magbanua's bank account has grown by at least $56,000, mostly in cash deposits, and she got a new car -- a used Lexus registered to Harvey Adelson.
Crime Watch Daily reached out to Magbanua's attorneys for comment, but got no response.
In the affidavit, authorities do say that Wendi was initially cooperative with the police, but that the day after Markel's memorial service in Tallahassee, the entire Adelson clan left with the kids to South Florida, promptly changed the children's last names to Adelson, and haven't spoken to investigators since.
Crime Watch Daily producers did try to contact Wendi Adelson's lawyer, but have yet to receive a reply.
So we tracked down accused shooter Sigfredo Garcia's attorney to get the defense's side of the story.
"These are dentists, these aren't 'The Sopranos,' OK?" said attorney Saam Zangeneh.
Crime Watch Daily reached out to Charlie Adelson's attorney, who declined to be interviewed at this time, but who did release a statement to the press regarding Rivera's new plea deal: "The prosecution admittedly didn't have enough evidence so it went out and bought some by giving away the farm to a murderer. Seven years is just offensive. that's not a search for the truth. That's a deal with the devil."
Crime Watch Daily went to Charlie Adelson's house to get his side of the story. He declined to discuss the case.
To date, no one in the Adelson family has been charged, and lawyers for the family have denied any involvement in Dan's murder.
Update Dec. 19, 2016: Magbanua was charged with first-degree murder, and a grand jury has indicted her on the charge. Magbanua has been denied bail and will remain behind bars until trial.