South Florida gets plenty of mention during opening statements of Daniel Markel murder trial

Ex-mother-in-law plotted to convert children to Christianity, prosecutor says

Wendi Adelson and Daniel Markel were in the midst of a bitter custody battle when the Florida State University law professor was fatally shot in July 2014.
Wendi Adelson and Daniel Markel were in the midst of a bitter custody battle when the Florida State University law professor was fatally shot in July 2014.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The estranged mother-in-law of Florida State University law professor Daniel Markel was so desperate to move her daughter and grandchildren to South Florida that she plotted ways to make his life miserable, including converting his children to Christianity, before he was shot to death at his Tallahassee home in 2014, a prosecutor revealed Thursday during the murder trial of Sigfredo Garcia and Katherine Magbanua.

Garcia and Magbanua are charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and solicitation to commit first-degree murder in connection with the July 2014 fatal shooting.

Another man, Luis Rivera, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and agreed to testify against Garcia and Magbanua.

Police said Garcia and Rivera traveled from South Florida to Tallahassee to kill Markel. 

A Tallahassee Police Department affidavit said Markel's death was the result of the 2013 contentious divorce from Wendi Adelson, a lawyer who has since relocated to South Florida.

Investigators learned that, at the time of the shooting, Adelson's brother, Charlie Adelson, was in a relationship with Magbanua, whom he regularly called. Garcia is the father of her two children.

Markel had been involved in a bitter divorce with Wendi Adelson. After she filed for divorce in 2012, Markel later learned that she and their two children had moved to her parents' home in Coral Springs.

In June 2013, a Leon County judge formally denied Adelson's motion for relocation with the children.