NEWS
05/27/2016 10:51 EDT | Updated 05/28/2017 01:12 EDT

Mystery remains after arrest in killing of Toronto-born Florida professor

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Relatives of a Canadian law professor who was gunned down two years ago in Florida say they are grateful for the investigation that led to an arrest this week, though "it does not diminish their immense pain."

Daniel Markel's parents and sister, who all live in Canada, issued a statement after police in Tallahassee announced that a South Florida man had been arrested in connection with the July 2014 killing.

The family said it would not comment further at this time. Ruth Markel, the mother of Daniel Markel, declined to answer questions when reached by phone at her home in Toronto.

Daniel Markel, who was teaching at the Florida State University, was shot dead in the garage of his Tallahassee home. Police have said he was the shooter's intended target.

But the arrest of 34-year-old Sigfredo Garcia hasn't answered a long line of questions about why Markel was killed.

Garcia, charged with cocaine possession and murder, appeared briefly in a Broward County court on Thursday where a judge ordered that he remain in jail.

Top police officials in Tallahassee are releasing scant details about how they linked Garcia, who lists a Miami Beach address, to the slaying or whether others are involved. They also got a judge to seal records related to the case.

Hallandale Beach police arrested Garcia at a gas station late Wednesday night.

Tallahassee Police Chief Micheal DeLeo said the case was still active and that they made the request to keep the records private "in order not to jeopardize this ongoing investigation." DeLeo and other Tallahassee police officials refused to answer any questions about whether other arrests are coming or what led them to Garcia.

"The intimate details of this case cannot be discussed as it was sealed by a judge," David Northway, the force's spokesman, said. "Once the case is unsealed, we will release all the documents, per state law."

Markel's shooting in the middle of the day stunned colleagues as well as residents inside the upscale neighbourhood where he lived in Tallahassee. He was shot in the head and died later at a nearby hospital.

The 41-year-old Markel was well known in national and international legal circles. The father of two boys and a 2001 graduate of Harvard Law School, he practised white-collar criminal defence and civil litigation before joining the Florida State law school faculty in 2005. He was tenured in 2010.

Markel finalized a contentious divorce from his ex-wife, Wendi Adelson, in 2013. The two had split custody of sons Benjamin and Lincoln, but they had follow-up litigation over money settlements. Adelson, who is also a lawyer, had worked at FSU but moved to Miami Beach about a year and a half ago.

Police initially had few leads in the case and eventually circulated pictures of the car believed to have been used by those involved in the killing.

When he appeared in court, Garcia declined a public defender. He told Judge Mary Rudd Robinson he has a lawyer, but just met him Wednesday and couldn't remember the name. He said he put the lawyer's card in his wallet, which had been confiscated.

"I didn't know I needed one until yesterday," Garcia told the judge. Robinson then asked him: "You didn't know you had a murder warrant?" she replied. He told her no.

The judge ordered he be given access to his wallet so he could contact his attorney.

State arrest records show Garcia has multiple arrests dating back to 1997. Charges included car theft, cocaine possession, burglary, threatening a witness and a strongarm robbery charge in 2012. Those records show that other charges were filed against him — including possession of an explosive device — but that the charges were dropped.

His occupation is listed on his arrest records as a heavy machine operator.

— with files from The Canadian Press