VERDICT WATCH FL - Dan Markel, 41, FSU Law Professor, Tallahassee, 18 July 2014 - #8 *arrests*

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vislaw

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I've never heard of the state being required to offer a plea deal. There is a law in Florida about that? TIA.
I believe so. An ADA told me that when I was a victim is the only reason I know...
I don't know the Florida statutes, but I suspect there is simply a requirement that the prosecution must discuss pleas with defendants, just as there is a mandatory requirement to have a settlement conference in civil cases. There is a huge incentive to dispose of cases via pleas or settlements because the system is overloaded. Thus, most state legislatures enact laws that encourage plea bargaining and civil settlement/mediation. However, I am 99.9% certain there is no requirement to offer a lesser plea -- most likely merely a requirement to have the discussion to see if a plea is possible.
 

Marysmith

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I don't know the Florida statutes, but I suspect there is simply a requirement that the prosecution must discuss pleas with defendants, just as there is a mandatory requirement to have a settlement conference in civil cases. There is a huge incentive to dispose of cases via pleas or settlements because the system is overloaded. Thus, most state legislatures enact laws that encourage plea bargaining and civil settlement/mediation. However, I am 99.9% certain there is no requirement to offer a lesser plea -- most likely merely a requirement to have the discussion to see if a plea is possible.
Totally makes sense. Would be an even more clogged system if not!
 

vislaw

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Sorry if this a dumb question....

If the State had anything on Wendi this far - they would have already had to have released it, right?
Florida has great "sunshine laws" so we would know if there were wire taps of her phone, for instance. To get a wire tap you must satisfy stringent requirements and my guess is they did not have the goods on her that would permit a judge to order that invasion of her privacy.
 

clearskies1

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I don't know the Florida statutes, but I suspect there is simply a requirement that the prosecution must discuss pleas with defendants, just as there is a mandatory requirement to have a settlement conference in civil cases. There is a huge incentive to dispose of cases via pleas or settlements because the system is overloaded. Thus, most state legislatures enact laws that encourage plea bargaining and civil settlement/mediation. However, I am 99.9% certain there is no requirement to offer a lesser plea -- most likely merely a requirement to have the discussion to see if a plea is possible.
Thanks. Yes, that's what I thought. Never mandatory for state to offer lesser charge/penalty.
 

vislaw

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Regarding Florida Law:
(b) Responsibilities of the Prosecuting Attorney.
(1) A prosecuting attorney may:
(A) engage in discussions with defense counsel or a defendant who is without counsel with a view toward reaching an agreement that, upon the defendant‘s entering a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a charged offense or to a lesser or related offense, the prosecuting attorney will do any of the following:
(i) abandon other charges; or
(ii) make a recommendation, or agree not to oppose the defendant‘s request for a particular sentence, with the understanding that such recommen-dation or request shall not be binding on the trial judge; or
(iii) agree to a specific sentence; and
(B) consult with the victim, investigating officer, or other interested persons and advise the trial judge of their views during the course of plea discus-sions.
(2) The prosecuting attorney shall:
(A) apprise the trial judge of all material facts known to the attorney regarding the offense and the defendant‘s background prior to acceptance of a plea by the trial judge; and
(B) maintain the record of direct discussions with a defendant who represents himself or herself and make the record available to the trial judge upon the entry of a plea arising from these discussions.

(c) Responsibilities of Defense Counsel.
(1) Defense counsel shall not conclude any plea agreement on behalf of a defendant-client without the client‘s full and complete consent thereto, being certain that any decision to plead guilty or nolo contendere is made by the defendant.
(2) Defense counsel shall advise defendant of:
(A) all plea offers; and
(B) all pertinent matters bearing on the choice of which plea to enter and the particulars attendant upon each plea and the likely results thereof, as well as any possible alternatives that may be open to the defendant.

(d) Responsibilities of the Trial Judge.
After an agreement on a plea has been reached, the trial judge may have made known to him or her the agreement and reasons therefor prior to the acceptance of the plea. Thereafter, the judge shall advise the parties whether other factors (unknown at the time) may make his or her concurrence impossible.
 

Gypsy Road

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Florida has great "sunshine laws" so we would know if there were wire taps of her phone, for instance. To get a wire tap you must satisfy stringent requirements and my guess is they did not have the goods on her that would permit a judge to order that invasion of her privacy.
I’m surprised. I guess LE bought her story of innocence when they interviewed her.
 

Gypsy Road

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And WA seemed to be keeping tabs on what the two killers were doing. She was seen by them near Dan's house when they made a drive by and then she was in the area right after he was murdered.
Which leads me to believe the LE should have wire tapped her phone. However, maybe they did and there was nothing. It sure seemed like GC was more than hinting during trial that Wendi is a POI, but there isn’t much there as far as evidence that we have seen. I personally think she was involved to some extent. Maybe LE screwed up by not investigating further? I mean I hate to cast doubt on them after the excellent job they did finding the Prius and it leading to SG, KM and LR and to DA and CA.
 

DropthePuck

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Darn, not that I don't want to see CA hang, but it's WA that is getting all my loathsome feelings. But for her Dan would still be alive and the children would still have a relationship with their father. All the children have now is the narcissistic family as an example of how to live.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to see Wendy go down for this. But IMO, this never would have happened if not for DA's interference and her loathing of Dan. DA is toxic, overbearing, evil, manipulative and rules that family with an iron fist. DA has always gotten what DA wants and she wanted Dan gone. WA is a grown woman with 2 children and DA was still telling her what to do in those hate-spewing emails. She was relentless in her hatred for Dan and probably pushed and pushed until CA agreed to take care of the "problem". She couldn't control Dan or the situation and she hated that and it ate away at her. As I've said before, this family is so enmeshed and it all goes back to DA and her toxic control over everyone in that family (except the sane, non-psychopath brother). As much disdain as I have for WA and CA, I have the most for DA. It all stems from her. JMO.
 

pattisbox

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And WA seemed to be keeping tabs on what the two killers were doing. She was seen by them near Dan's house when they made a drive by and then she was in the area right after he was murdered.
someone mentioned that WA may have driven by to close the garage door. This way Dan would not have been found so easily
 

friendlyobserver

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These are all very important action items - is the prosecution likely to see this on websleuths? if not, maybe the law firm representing the Markel family will see this? pass it on to GC? I would add
1. bringing the cellmates in - the one who said Garcia said it was "Don" who ordered the crime; the one who said KM showed her her breasts courtesy of the professor. I know the credibility of cellmates is low but still they weigh something I think
2. Wendi's other ex boyfriends after Lacasse - investigate them and what she told them
3. Bring Rob to the stand. He knows his family's level of hatred, immorality, the weirdness of their refusal to talk about the murder
4. When WA is tried, present the "creative writing" she did about her "Latex husband" and how she is the real victim of the whole thing...
5. investigate whether there was a stock the bar party that evening and who she went to lunch with the day of the murder.
6. Go to the Country Club where Donna plays tennis. Talk with everyone these, what they know, show some presence and show how there is a continued expansion of the investigation.
7. If Garcia talks - ask if he knows who the previous hired hit men who took the money and didn't deliver are.
There was a podcast a while ago about unsolved murders called "Someone knows Something" -- to me it's a good motto particularly here where it is in fact a solved murder and multi person conspiracy -- many someones know many somethings that haven't yet come forward. Incentivize them to speak their truth. Anonymous tip lines; rewards; shaking the trees; calling in friends and family members of the people of interest.

There will be a new trial and it is imperative that the prosecution use the intervening time wisely. Here are the action items I view as most important. I'd be interested to hear thoughts of others as to how this time can best be used by GC and her team.

1) Advise counsel for both KM and SG that both CA and DA will be indicted and tell them the window for making any deal will close upon the charging of the Adelsons.
2) Convene a grand jury and seek indictments against both CA and DA. At the press conference announcing the arrests provide a new tip line and ask the public to assist with providing information relevant to specific issues.
3) Commence a new investigation devoted to undermine KM's testimony that her cash came from tips as a bottle girl. Impeaching this testimony convincingly should be a high priority for the next trial.
4) Subpoena HA under a grant of immunity and question him at the next trial.
5) Subpoena Jessica Rodriguez under a grant of immunity and question her at the next trial regarding her wiretapped calls and text messages to KM.
5) Provide the Dolce Vita audio to a qualified forensic audio laboratory and lay proper foundation for the preparation of a transcript that will be admissible at the new trial.
6) Prepare extensively for a proper cross examination of KM, CA and DA should any or all take the stand.
7) Prepare properly to impeach WA when she is called at the next trial. Her testimony opens several doors and if her brother and mother are defendants she can be interrogated with respect to information not permitted in the last trial.
 

vislaw

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We work in the field and provide forensic support as well as litigation consulting. We study persuasive science and often are involved in developing demonstrative exhibits for trial teams. I am a fan of GC and believe she put on a solid case. However, I'd like to share with you what our approach would have been to the call records on July 17, 2014.

Recall how persuasive it was when GC presented the timeline showing KM's bank account and she clicked her PowerPoint to have the graph show the dramatic spike of cash that coincided precisely with the murder. When you have such a dramatic exhibit, it always helps to mirror it with a corroborating exhibit. In this case the call activity on the day of the murder is obviously critical. I believe it should have been the centerpiece of an exhibit that was used in a manner that would resonate with the bank record presentation. It is also very important to coordinate the direct testimony being used to introduce the exhibit. Let's assume GC has laid foundation for the following. To leverage the persuasive value of the evidence, I'd suggest she ask her witness questions along these lines:

Q: Agent Sanford, I'm showing you a timeline that includes the year 2014 when Mr. Markel was murdered. For the record, what was the date of the murder?
A: July 17th.
GC clicks to show the vertical line representing the date of the murder:
TimelineAA.jpg


Q: Now, Agent Sanford, have you've studied the phone records for Charlie Adelson, Donna Adelson, Wendi Adelson, Katherine Magbanua and Sigfredo Garcia?
A: Yes.
Q: Did I ask you to compile the number of calls made daily among and between these five people?
A: Yes you did.
Q: And for the calendar year 2014, did you make a daily count for calls among and between them?
A: Yes I did.
Q: Did you find there was one day among the 365 days of 2014 where the number of calls made between these people had a particularly high total?
A: Yes. There was one day when the call activity among and between these individuals was much higher than any other. We found a flurry of calls placed between those phone numbers on a single day.
Q: And what day was that, Agent Sanford?
A: July 17th, 2014
GC clicks to superimpose the call activity over the same date as the murder:
TimelineBB.jpg


Q: Now Agent Sanford, I'm going to zoom into the 24 hour period starting just after Midnight on the 17th.
(At this point I believe GC should use an interactive Timeline that allows her to graphically take the jury through the calls made. I've whipped up an example using the free online Timeline Software Tiki-Toki. A number of our clients use this simple tool in their courtroom presentations. You can view the Markel Murder Timeline I made here: Dan Markel Murder -- you can switch to and from the 2D/3D views by clicking the little "2D/3D" icon in the lower left corner of the screen.

Below are two screen shots from the Timeline. You can use your mouse wheel to scroll through the day and you can click on any of the calls to pull up information about the call duration:

Timeline04.JPG


The screenshot below shows how we've incorporated the murder 911 call in the timeline. Seeing that graphic adjacent to the visual depiction of the telephone tag going on is extremely persuasive and makes the temporal connection between the conspirators and the event:
Timeline05.JPG


Again, I'm a fan of the work done by the prosecution. However, I do believe that modern trials benefit from careful preparation and use of presentation tools that help the jury understand the case and the issues. I think the jury might not fully appreciate the significance of the phone traffic if it is presented in a somewhat sterile list that looks similar to the phone bills they've reviewed many times at home. By adding images of the defendants with a dynamic graphic depiction of the timeline, the persuasive impact and importance of this particular phone traffic becomes evident.
 
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