In a recent court ruling, a South Florida dentist, Charlie Adelson, aged 47, received a life sentence for the murder of his former brother-in-law, Dan Markel, a renowned Florida State University professor. This sentence followed a highly publicized and emotionally charged custody dispute.
Last month, Adelson was convicted of first-degree murder, conspiracy, and solicitation in the 2014 fatal shooting of Markel, which occurred in Markel’s car outside his Tallahassee residence. The swift decision, reached by jurors in just three hours, came after prosecutors argued that Adelson paid for Markel’s assassination.
During his sentencing, Adelson asserted his innocence, despite receiving an additional 30-year sentence for the lesser charges.
The eight-day trial featured an array of evidence, including wiretaps and covertly recorded conversations, which played a pivotal role in implicating Adelson.
The victim’s father, Phil Markel, expressed his family’s profound grief, highlighting the dual loss of his son and the severed connection with his grandsons. The boys, aged 3 and 4 at the time of their father’s murder, were caught in the middle of a custody battle between their mother, Wendi Adelson—Charlie Adelson’s sister—and Markel. Despite Wendi Adelson’s denial of any involvement and the absence of charges against her, the custody dispute was a central element of the case. A previous court ruling had prevented her from relocating to South Florida with the children, a decision that Markel supported to keep his sons close.
In a detailed presentation, prosecutors described how Adelson allegedly employed his girlfriend, Katherine Magbanua, to arrange Markel’s murder through Sigfredo Garcia, the father of her children. Garcia then reportedly involved his childhood friend, Luis Rivera, in the plot. Both Magbanua and Garcia are currently serving life sentences for first-degree murder, while Rivera received a 19-year sentence for second-degree murder after his testimony against them.
Adelson challenged the prosecution’s narrative, claiming to be a victim of extortion rather than the architect of a murder plot. This claim came amidst his efforts to present an alternative perspective to the public and the jury.
Adding to the complexity of the case, Donna Adelson, the 73-year-old family matriarch, was arrested on charges mirroring those her son faced. Her arrest at Miami International Airport occurred one week after her son’s conviction, as she was preparing to board a flight to Dubai and Vietnam, countries without extradition treaties with the U.S. Currently held without bond, Donna Adelson faces significant legal challenges ahead, with her attorney not listed in jail records.