United States Marshals have arrested Charlie Adelson following an indictment yesterday on charges of first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and solicitation of murder.
Innocent or guilty, this arrest always felt like a matter of “when” and not “if.”
Adelson, the brother of former law professor Wendi Adelson, emerged as a prime suspect in the July 2014 murder of Wendi’s ex-husband, FSU Law professor Dan Markel, years ago.
Authorities captured the suspected killers in 2016. One of the gunmen, Luis Rivera, pleaded guilty early in the case, saying the killing was ordered because “the lady wants her two kids back.” Wendi Adelson and Dan Markel were divorced and sharing custody — following the killing, Adelson took the kids and moved them to South Florida. The other shooter, Sigfredo Garcia, pleaded not guilty and was later convicted. Law enforcement pegged Garcia’s former fiancée Katherine Magbanua as the suspected go-between setting up the killing. Magbanua survived a mistrial in her joint trial with Garcia. Her new trial on murder and conspiracy charges is planned for next month.
Magbanua worked for Charlie Adelson’s dental practice and ultimately dated him, adding fuel to the investigator’s theory that the killers were hired by the Adelson family. Given that the alternative theory is that a random woman in a dentist’s office in Miami arbitrarily decided to spend $100K to kill a random professor she’d never met in Tallahassee, prosecutors felt pretty good about it. That Wendi Adelson’s boyfriend testified that she went ahead and told him that Charlie had explored hiring a hitman certainly didn’t disabuse prosecutors of the notion.
David Lat, who has always kept on top of this case, got a statement from Charlie Adelson’s attorneys:
Prosecutors may not have NEW information but they may have new insights into old information. According to a statement from State Attorney Jack Campbell, pre-existing audio of Charlie Adelson and Katherine Magbanua speaking over dinner received audio enhancement allowing the conversation to be heard clearly for the first time.
Whatever’s on that tape seems to have convinced prosecutors to make a move.
Gibson Dunn’s Orin Snyder and Matt Benjamin, representing the Markel family, issued this statement.
The Markel Family is deeply grateful to the State Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and all members of law enforcement for their tireless pursuit of justice. Nearly eight years after Danny’s tragic murder, these dedicated public servants continue to fight to honor Danny’s memory and to hold accountable all those responsible for his horrific death. On behalf of Danny’s family and friends in the Tallahassee community and all over the world, thank you.
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.