FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida.
A Florida dentist was arrested for hiring hitmen eight years ago to kill his sister’s ex-husband, a prominent law professor, so she could return to the Fort Lauderdale area from Tallahassee with her two children.
Charles Adelson, 45, was being held without bond Thursday at Broward County Jail on charges of first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation to commit murder after being arrested at his home by U.S. Marshals. He is awaiting his transfer to Tallahassee.
Adelson and other members of his family have long been cited by prosecutors and investigators as potential suspects in the July 18, 2014 murder of Florida State University law professor Daniel Markel in his home in Tallahassee. Markel, 41, had been married to Wendi Adelson, who was unable to return to South Florida because Markel had joint custody of their young children after a highly contentious divorce.
Markel was shot in his garage by two men, Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera, who prosecutors say were hired through Katherine Magbanua, a former girlfriend and employee of Adelson and the mother of Adelson’s two children. Garcia.
Garcia is serving a life sentence after being convicted of first-degree murder in 2019. Rivera is serving a 19-year sentence after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for testifying against Garcia and Magbanua. Magbanua faces a first-degree murder retrial next month after a hung jury in 2019.
Leon County State’s Attorney Jack Campbell said in a statement that Adelson was indicted by a grand jury after technicians were able to improve the sound of a secretly made 2016 video recording of him speaking. to his mother at a rowdy South Florida restaurant, La Dolce Vita. The family had been watched by investigators trying to solve Markel’s murder.
“This recording includes statements by Charles Adelson that can be heard clearly for the first time,” Campbell said. He didn’t say specifically what the recording says.
David Markus, Adelson’s attorney, said his client was innocent and linked the arrest to Magbanua’s retrial.
“Prosecutors have no new information that led to this arrest. The timing stinks, doesn’t it? On the eve of a long-awaited trial of (Magbanua), this decision smacks of desperation,” Markus said in an emailed statement.
Prosecutors said during their trial that Magbanua enlisted Garcia to participate in a $100,000 hit funded by Markel’s in-laws, which they denied.
Garcia then enlisted Rivera, a childhood friend, to help her. Prosecutors said the two men drove from South Florida to Tallahassee to carry out the plan, stalking Markel the morning of the shooting as he dropped off his children at daycare and stopped at the gym. When Markel returned home, Garcia shot him as he sat in his car talking on his cellphone.
Wendi Adelson had told authorities that her brother joked about hiring a hitman as a divorce present, but instead decided to buy him a television.