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Katherine Magbanua’s murder trial won’t happen until May after a Leon County Circuit Judge reluctantly granted a continuance just two weeks from when jurors were to be seated.
After both Magbanua’s defense team and prosecutors with the State Attorney’s Office agreed that a CIA analyst needed more time to analyze a key recording in the alleged murder-for-hire case, Judge Robert Wheeler said he expects the trial to start over the summer.
An exact date has not yet been set. Her trial was set to start Feb. 14.
It isn’t the first time over the last year Wheeler has presided over a continuance in the case in which Magbanua faces charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation of murder in connection with the July 2014 death of Florida State law professor Dan Markel.
Wheeler rebuked attorneys who said the CIA analyst asked for more time to do audio enhancement on a secret recording taken by undercover FBI agents.
“Here again, we’re going to be put into a position to delay it again,” Wheeler said. “We’ve sent out juror summonses again and it just is unreasonable to this court, but I don’t have any choice."
Attorneys say they need a month for work on enhancing the audio to be completed and then another month to analyze it and take depositions related to it.
Two afternoons worth of court proceedings scheduled this week in the case were postponed.
Prosecutors allege Magbanua worked as an intermediary between the killers and the family of Markel’s ex-wife Wendi Adelson, primarily her brother and mother Charlie and Donna Adelson, who investigators say financed the killing.
The Adelson family has not been indicted in connection with the case and through attorneys has denied any involvement in Markel’s murder.
The so-called Dolce Vida recording, taken in 2016 by FBI agents at the Miami restaurant of the same name, captures a conversation between Magbanua and Charlie Adelson in which they discuss undercover agents approaching his mom about Markel’s shooting, which prosecutors say detail the chain of information flow about the murder conspiracy.
Much of the video is inaudible and its use in trial – Magbanua faced a jury in 2019 but her case ended in a mistrial – has been disputed with her defense attorneys calling it hearsay because Charlie Adelson is not testifying and cannot be questioned about its content.
During Magbanua’s joint trial in 2019 alongside the father of her two children Sigfredo Garcia – who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison – only about 25 seconds of the video were allowed in court due to its poor quality.
Magbanua is the only one of three indicted suspects in Markel's July 2014 killing whose case has not been disposed.
Garcia’s childhood friend, Luis Rivera, testified the two men drove from South Florida to shoot Markel in what investigators say was a murder-for-hire plot. Markel was killed sitting in his car in front of his Trescott Drive home.
Rivera and Garcia are expected to testify about Magbanua.
Rivera pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for a 19-year sentence, to run concurrently with a federal sentence in an unrelated case, for his testimony and cooperation with prosecutors.
Contact Karl Etters at firstname.lastname@example.org or @KarlEtters on Twitter.
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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Dan Markel murder: Another trial delay for Katherine Magbanua