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Crime News Murders

Florida Dentist Convicted in 2014 Murder-For-Hire Plot Against Brother-in-Law

“It has been more than nine years since Danny was brutally murdered in cold blood, and it has taken a tremendous effort to get to this point,” Dan Markel’s parents said after Charles Adelson’s conviction in Markel's murder.

By Dorian Geiger
A Police hand out of Charlie Adelson

A Florida periodontist was found guilty in the murder-for-hire plot of his brother-in-law, a prominent legal scholar, who was gunned down nearly a decade ago amid a bitter custody battle. 

Charles Adelson was convicted Monday on first-degree murder charges, as well as conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and solicitation of first-degree murder in the targeted 2014 slaying of Florida State University law professor Dan Markel, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

RELATED: Woman Receives Life In Murder-For-Hire Plot To Kill Her Ex's Former Brother-In-Law

How did Charles Adelson react to his conviction in Dan Markel's murder? 

As the verdict was read aloud in the courtroom, Adelson mouthed the word “No” and hung his head, The New York Times reported. The jury had deliberated for just upwards of three hours, following an eight-day trial.

Adelson is expected to be sentenced to life in prison. 

“This has been a really long and terrible ordeal for all of us,” Markel’s sister, Shelly Markel, told reporters following the verdict, according to the The Associated Press. “It’s taken a long toll on our lives. And there’s a real sense of relief today.”

Markel’s loved ones, including his parents, Ruth Markel and Phil Markel, attended the majority of trial proceedings. 

“It has been more than nine years since Danny was brutally murdered in cold blood, and it has taken a tremendous effort to get to this point,” Ruth and Phil said in a statement.

In July 2014, Markel was fatally shot while seated in his car outside his house. Adelson, one of four people convicted in Markel’s death, was arrested in 2022. 

Prosecutors contended that Adelson had carried out the murder at the behest of his family, and particularly his sister, Wendi Adelson, who had recently divorced from Markel and had been embroiled in a prickly custody battle involving the former couple’s two children. Wendi sought to relocate with her two sons from Tallahassee to South Florida, prosecutors said, in order to be closer to her family. A judge, however, had ruled against her petition for relocation, according to The Associated Press.

Police handouts of Charlie Adelson and Katherine Magbanua

According to prosecutors, Adelson paid two men, Sigfredo Garcia, and Luis Rivera, a childhood friend and former Latin Kings gang leader, to carry out Markel’s murder. Prosecutors say Adelson’s girlfriend at the time, Katherine Magbanua, connected him to the two alleged assassins. Magbanua reportedly shared two children with Garcia, officials said.

Adelson, who testified in his own defense at the high-profile trial, which was punctuated by twists and turns, repeatedly told the court he was innocent. The Florida dentist instead claimed he was the victim of extortion at the hands of Magbanua, Garcia, and Rivera.

RELATED: Florida Woman Guilty In Professor’s 'Barbaric' 2014 Murder-For-Hire Slaying

Adelson admitted that his family had been floating the possibility of paying Markel — a reported $1 million — to allow Wendi and their sons to relocate from Tallahassee. The plan went awry, he said, once Garcia and Rivera learned of the alleged payoff, and then arranged to murder Markel themselves with the goal of later extorting him.

Adelson said on the stand that he’d been floored when Magbanua later confessed that her two pals were Markel’s killers — and that they’d demanded $300,000 from him in 48 hours or he, too, would be killed. 

“She’s like, ‘Look, if you don’t pay in 48 hours, they will kill you,’” Adelson testified.

The Florida dentist ultimately never reported the alleged bizarre extortion to law enforcement. In the end, Adelson was unable to convince the jury he wasn’t complicit in Markel’s slaying. He was the only defense witness called to testify.  

Oxygen.com has reached out to Adelson’s attorney, Daniel Rashbaum, for comment. 

A police handout of Sigfredo Garcia

Three others were convicted in Dan Markel's murder

Last year, Magbanua was found guilty of participating in Markel’s murder plot by a Leon County jury. She was found guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation of murder and was sentenced to life in prison, plus two 30-year sentences to run consecutively with the life term, according to The New York Times.

The case was a re-trial. Magbanua, who first denied involvement in the murder-for-hire scheme, took the stand during Adelson’s trial and changed her story, accusing her former partner of orchestrating Markel’s killing.

At Adelson’s trial, his legal team had attempted to paint Magbanua as a liar and unreliable witness.

“Why tell the truth now?,” Georgia Cappleman, the case’s lead prosecutor, asked Magbanua under oath, according to The New York Times.

“I believe that the truth needed to come out now so that the family can get some type of closure,” Magbanua replied.

Magbanua claimed she’d lied in earlier court proceedings to “save” herself. 

In 2019, Garcia was convicted of first-degree murder in Markel’s killing and conspiracy to commit murder. He was sentenced to life in prison. Rivera, who took a plea deal on second-degree murder charges in 2016 in exchange for testifying against Garcia, Magbanua and Adelson, was sentenced to 19 years in prison in the case, according to the New York Times.

Adelson’s parents, Donna Adelson and Harvey Adelson, as well as his sister Wendi are all considered unindicted co-conspirators in the case. None have been formally charged and they all deny any connection to Markel’s murder-for-hire plot. According to The New York Times, Wendi has testified with limited immunity in the trio of trials in the case.

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