Prosecutors described a sordid plot in which the former in-laws of Tallahassee law professor Daniel Merkel conspired to hire a hitman to kill him. The hit was successful. The murder, which occurred in 2014, was one that excited the imaginations of armchair detectives and legal scholars alike. Just why would anyone want to murder Daniel Merkel?
That’s where the prosecution came in. In order to convince a jury that the defendant, Sigfredo Garcia, was guilty of this heinous crime, they needed a story that tied Garcia to Merkel. What was their story? The in-laws did it.
According to the prosecution, Merkel’s former wife, Wendi Adelson, financed the hit against Merkel. She put up $100,000 that was supposed to be split between Garcia, his girlfriend, and longtime friend, Luis Rivera, the shot caller for the Latin Kings in Miami. Yet no one from that family has been charged with anything yet.
The Hitman and His Girlfriend
The only two facing charges thus far are the alleged hitman and his alleged girlfriend, Katherine Magbanua. The two are facing charges for first-degree murder. The prosecution told the jury that they hope that anyone who had any involvement in the slaying will be punished. However, they asked the jury to believe their version of events without putting up any evidence capable of convicting Merkel’s former wife.
The connection between Wendi Adelson and the hitman is through Katherine Magbanua who dated one of Adelson’s brothers. Rivera, the shot caller for the Latin Kings in Miami, is the star witness for the prosecution against the other two. He has been given a reduced sentence of 19 years for his connection to the slaying.
The case was notable because it garnered national attention and was featured on the podcast, Over My Dead Body.
Adelson and Merkel had gone through a bitter divorce that included a major custody dispute. Merkel was a highly regarded criminal defense attorney. When Adelson attempted to relocate with their children, Merkel filed an injunction and successfully blocked the move. All of this is supposed to be the reason behind the murder. Merkel alleged that Adelson was making disparaging comments about her in front of the children. While the custody dispute was being decided by the court, Merkel was murdered.
The case against the hitman and his girlfriend is strong. The police nabbed Rivera first and linked him to Magbanua which, in turn, linked them to Garcia. Police were able to trace a rental car to Rivera. Then, Rivera turned on the other two and agreed to testify against them. The question then becomes: Why isn’t Wendi Adelson being charged too?
Magbanua took the stand in her own defense blaming her ex-boyfriend Charlie Adelson for the murder. Wendi Adelson also testified that she had ‘no idea’ who plotted the hit against her husband and was given partial immunity for her testimony.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’re embroiled in a plot to kill your ex-husband, the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at the Skier Law Firm, P.A. has handled high-profile cases before and can help you mount a reputable defense against the charges. Talk to us today for more information.