Crime

Charlie Adelson Must Remain Behind Bars Ahead of Dan Markel Murder Trial

Charles Adelson (center) is the alleged mastermind behind the murder of former law professor Dan Markel.
Charles Adelson (center) is the alleged mastermind behind the murder of former law professor Dan Markel. Screenshot via WCTV Facebook Page
In a Friday morning hearing, a Leon County judge denied a motion for pretrial release for Charlie Adelson, the alleged mastermind behind the 2014 murder-for-hire of Florida State University law professor Dan Markel. Judge Robert Wheeler sided with the state, saying Adelson poses a danger to the community and must remain in jail ahead of his murder trial.

The 45-year-old dentist has been in a Leon County jail since April, when a grand jury indicted him on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and solicitation to commit murder for his alleged role in the killing of Markel, his former brother-in-law.

Adelson's attorney Daniel Rashbaum argued for pretrial release on the grounds that the state's evidence is "purely circumstantial."

Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappelman read a statement on behalf of the Markel family, asking the judge to deny Adelson's motion because they fear he will tamper with witnesses and flee the country prior to trial. The judge ultimately agreed.

At the time of the murder, Markel was in a bitter custody battle with his ex-wife Wendi Adelson, who is Charlie's sister. After Markel did not permit his two sons to move to South Florida with Wendi, Charlie came up with the murder-for-hire scheme, prosecutors allege.

Prosecutors claim Charlie Adelson paid Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera $100,000 in cash to kill Markel. Katherine Magbanua, Adelson's girlfriend at the time, had put him in touch with Garcia, an ex-boyfriend of Magbanua and the father of her children.

Cellphone records and surveillance footage indicated Garcia and Rivera drove from South Florida to Tallahassee before the pair gunned down the renowned law professor in his driveway.

Garcia was sentenced to life in prison in 2019 for murdering Markel. Rivera cooperated with the prosecution and was given a 19-year sentence. Magbanua received a life sentence in July.

Adelson has been on prosecutors' radar for years. During a 2015 interview with police, Jeffrey Lacasse, a onetime boyfriend of Adelson's sister, claimed the sister admitted to him that Adelson had looked into hiring a hitman to murder Markel. Lacasse reasserted that account while testifying at trial.

Prosecutors have cited undercover FBI recordings of discussions between Adelson and Magbanua as further evidence of Adelson's alleged involvement in the murder.

The case has been at the center of numerous true-crime shows and podcasts, including Dateline, 20/20, and Wondery's Over My Dead Body.

Adelson is the only member of his family to have been criminally charged in the murder.

Up until his arrest, he lived in Fort Lauderdale and worked as a periodontist at the family-owned dental practice Adelson Institute for Aesthetics and Implant Dentistry in Tamarac.

His trial is expected to begin in early 2023.
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Naomi Feinstein is a fellow at Miami New Times. She spent the last year in New York City getting her master’s degree at the Columbia School of Journalism. She is also a proud alum of the University of Miami.
Contact: Naomi Feinstein