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Dan Markel's family say they're relieved as Charlie Adelson faces sentencing for his murder

Phil Markel buries his face in his hands after hearing a jury found Charlie Adelson guilty on all three counts for the murder of his son, Dan Markel on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023.
Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat
Phil Markel buries his face in his hands after hearing a jury found Charlie Adelson guilty on all three counts for the murder of his son, Dan Markel on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023.

Charlie Adelson is now facing his sentencing trial after a jury found him guilty of three felonies, including first degree Murder, for the 2014 slaying of Florida State University Law Professor Dan Markel. His defense argued that Adelson had nothing to do with Markel’s death, and that he was being extorted by his ex-girlfriend Katherine Magbanua, her former partner Sigfredo Garcia, and Garcia’s childhood friend Luis Rivera. All three are in prison for their roles in the crime.

Adelson’s guilty verdict marks the latest in a long-running case that shocked Tallahassee and has generated national headlines. Adelson is the first in his family to be charged and convicted in relation to Markel’s murder, though other family members have long been implicated in the crime. State Attorney Georgia Cappleman declined to say whether more charges would be forthcoming, but did acknowledge the state’s investigation is ongoing.

Adelson testified in his defense during the trial. His attorney, Daniel Rashbaum, attempted to cast doubt on Adelson’s involvement through a series of questions related to several phone calls made between him and Magbanua on the days following Markel’s death — calls Rashbaum argued showed Adelson being extorted and not his guilt.

READ MORE: Trial over Florida State University professor's killing to start in October

“On day one, July 18, 2014 she [Magbanua] is the only one that physically contacted you to conduct this extortion am I correct?” Rashbaum asked Adelson.

“Yes, you are,” he replied.
“So you actually never had any contact with any Latin King?” asked Rashbaum.
“No. No phone calls, no texts and no letters,” Adelson said. “Did you have any contact with the thugs that were getting your money?” Rashbaum questioned, to which Adelson replied, “no.”
Magbanua was convicted for what the state said was acting as the go-between for Adelson and the convicted hitmen, Garcia and Rivera—who was also a Latin King gang member.

READ MORE: Magbanua is sentenced to life as Adelson seeks freedom before his trial for Markel's murder

Adelson said he thought Katherine Magbanua was protecting him in 2014 and that she had been dragged into the situation like he had. He also testified that he bought Magbanua gifts to keep her happy, so he could stay alive.

Speaking with reporters after the verdict, Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman said she was grateful for the guilty verdict.
“I’m feeling thrilled, I’m feeling relieved, I feel like a lot of work has paid off,” said Cappleman. Markel’s family also addressed the jury’s decision, calling it a “relief.”

“This has been a really long and terrible ordeal for all of us. It’s taken a long toll on our lives, and there’s a sense of relief today,” said Sally Markel.
In 2022, the state of Florida approved a new law allowing grandparents to have visitation rights when one parent is found liable for the death of the other parent. Markel and his ex-wife Wendi Adelson, the sister of Charlie Adelson, were involved in a custody fight at the time of his murder. The state presented evidence showing heated discussions about the custody battle between the Adelsons. Charlie Adelson is facing life in prison for what the state says was paying for and planning Markel’s death.

Copyright 2023 WFSU.

Brendan Brown
Lynn Hatter has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative.
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