By Kevin Deutsch
Katherine Magbanua, who helped a Tamarac dentist plot the brazen daytime execution of a beloved Florida State University law professor, was sentenced to life in prison Friday.
Magbanua, 37, also received two 30-year-sentences to run consecutively following her life sentence.
A Tallahassee jury found her guilty of first-degree murder in May for her role in the 2014 killing of the 41-year-old attorney and professor Dan Markel.
Markel was locked in a bitter child custody dispute with the sister of dentist Charlie Adelson, 45. Magbanua, who was in a relationship with Adelson at the time, also worked at his dental practice at 7737 N. University Dr.
The crucial break in the murder investigation was a video recording, covertly made by the FBI, of a meeting between Adelson and Magbanua.
The recording of their 2016 meeting, which took place at the Miami Beach Mexican restaurant Dulce Vida, captured the two discussing the murder conspiracy, according to prosecutors.
The extracted audio was only recently enhanced to the point that certain parts of their conversation became audible, prosecutors said.
As a result, Adelson was charged in May 2022 with conspiracy to commit murder and soliciting the murder of his brother-in-law. He has pleaded not guilty and is held without bond while awaiting trial.
The evidence gathered by investigators shows Adelson’s family bankrolled Markel’s murder, according to court records.
The murder also involved two other men, prosecutors said.
One of the gunmen who killed Markel during the planned hit was Sigfredo Garcia, who has already been convicted of first-degree murder and solicitation to commit murder in the case.
Garcia shares children with Magbanua, authorities said.
Another gunman allegedly involved in Markel’s killing, Luis Rivera, is a Latin Kings street gang member in South Florida, prosecutors said. He has accepted a plea deal from prosecutors.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.