Retrial of South Florida woman in FSU professor death in Day 3

Katherine Magbanua, a South Florida woman who is accused of being the connection between the hitmen and a professor’s former in-laws, faces numerous charges.

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – It was Day 3 of the retrial for Katherine Magbanua, a South Florida woman who is accused of being the connection between the hitmen and an FSU professor’s former in-laws in what investigators say was a murder for hire.

Daniel Markel was shot to death in his driveway in broad daylight.

On Friday, Luis Rivera took the stand. Police said he was a partner in the murder. He previously took a plea deal and was sentenced to 19 years for his part in Markel’s death.

Investigators said Rivera was one of two men hired by Katherine Magbanua. She was dating the brother of Markel’s ex-wife, Wendi Adelson, at the time of his murder.

Adelson testified Thursday that her family did not like Markel but that her they had absolutely nothing to do with his killing.

Prosecutors said Rivera’s statements are key to proving her involvement in the murder-for-hire plot.

“One of the phones that you had in your possession that morning with the money drop did you use that phone to call Katherine Magbanua?” prosecutors asked.

“She called me,” Rivera responded.

“And you bought a phone to do a murder? Did you rent a car in your own name to come do a murder?”

“Yes,” Rivera responded.

Rivera said he was paid in $100 bills by Magbanua the day after the murder.

Magbanua faces numerous charges including first-degree murder.


About the Author:

Eden Checkol co-anchors Local 10's 10 p.m. weeknight newscast on WSFL and also reports on WPLG newscasts. She’s a Minnesota native who is thrilled to leave the snow behind and call South Florida home.