Dan Markel was killed in his driveway by a pair of gunmen in July 2014. Yesterday, a jury convicted his ex-brother-in-law, Charlie Adelson of masterminding the murder.
Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera shot the Florida State Law School professor, but from the outset suspicious turned to a murder-for-hire plot. Garcia and Rivera had driven from South Florida to Tallahassee to kill an academic and promptly turned around. After police apprehended the duo, Rivera would tell authorities the pair had been hired to do the job because “the lady wants her two kids back.” Markel’s ex-wife lived in South Florida and had been fighting Dan over custody. Katherine Magbanua, the mother of Garcia’s children, worked for — and at the time was dating — Markel’s former brother-in-law.
The pieces came together quickly.
And yet developing an airtight case against Charlie Adelson took years. Garcia and Rivera went to jail relatively quickly. Katherine Magbanua, the go-between, managed to secure a mistrial the first time around and stubbornly refused to flip for years, even as her next trial netted her more than a life sentence for her role.
Then, suddenly, everything accelerated. New technology allowed authorities to finally listen to previously inaudible surveillance recordings of Magbanua and Adelson. Magbanua finally agreed to cooperate. And they arrested Charlie.
The defense theory that Magbanua masterminded the whole affair in a bid to extort Adelson on the grounds that the police would finger him if anyone ever found out failed to gain traction with the jury. Maybe because it was crazy.
Because the case was not pursued as a capital case, Adelson faces life in prison at his December sentencing.
Is this the end of the matter? Our former editor David Lat, who has followed this case closely from the start, suggests that the state’s theory of the case might foreshadow charges against Markel’s mother-in-law Donna Adelson. Though the lesson of the last nine years is that this is a cautious and thorough prosecutor’s office and without testimony about direct conversations it’s hard to believe the state will roll the dice. And unless Charlie plans to flip on his mom (or even could) that’s probably not materializing. But Lat has a far better handle on the particulars.
So barring another bombshell, the case appears to finally be nearing its end. In closing, Gibson Dunn partners Orin Snyder and Matt Benjamin, representing Markel’s parents, issued a statement thanking police and prosecutors for methodically bringing the case to this point and noted:
While nothing will ever repair the hole torn in our hearts when Danny was stolen from us, we appreciate all those near and far who have joined our family in seeking justice for Dan, and in keeping his memory alive with such dedication. And we are thankful for the support and encouragement we have received from friends and family around the world.
Earlier: Trial Of Alleged Mastermind Behind Law Professor’s Murder Begins
Law Professor’s Murder Case Takes Turn As Convicted Intermediary May Be Ready To Talk
Life Sentence In Law Professor Murder Case
Long-Awaited Arrest Made In Law Professor’s Murder
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.