Tallahassee, Florida – November 7, 2023
After nearly a decade of suspicion and a complex legal battle, Charlie Adelson, a Fort Lauderdale dentist, has been found guilty of the murder of Florida State law professor “Dan Markel.” A 12-person jury returned a guilty verdict in Adelson’s trial at the Leon County Courthouse in Tallahassee, Florida, potentially sentencing him to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
The charges against Adelson, who is 47 years old, included first-degree murder, conspiracy, and solicitation in the brutal killing of Dan Markel on the morning of July 18, 2014. On that fateful day, Markel was shot twice in the head at point-blank range in the garage of his home, following a routine morning of taking his children to preschool and going to the gym. Sadly, he passed away 14 hours later.
This high-profile case, filled with complexity and sensational details, involved extensive investigations by both Tallahassee police and the FBI. It also featured a confession, wiretaps, recorded conversations, four arrests, three trials, and a delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, it garnered national attention, appearing in news headlines and even becoming the subject of various true crime media, including features on Dateline and 20/20, and a popular true-crime podcast.
As the jury delivered the guilty verdict, Charlie Adelson leaned his head forward, resting it on the defense table. His reaction was devoid of any spoken words or emotional display.
Throughout the eight-day trial, prosecutors portrayed Charlie Adelson as a wealthy and arrogant “playboy” who believed he was clever enough to evade the consequences of murder. As per the prosecution’s argument, Adelson’s alleged reason for Markel’s murder was to bring an end to a contentious child custody conflict with his former spouse, Wendi Adelson, who happens to be the accused’s younger sibling.
This verdict marks the fourth conviction related to Dan Markel’s tragic demise and the first that implicates a member of the Adelson family, who had long been suspected as a potential co-conspirators in the murder plot. While Wendi Adelson, who testified in her brother’s trial, and her parents, Donna and Harvey Adelson, have consistently denied any involvement, the legal proceedings have cast a shadow of suspicion over the family.
The case has also revealed the involvement of key players, including Luis Rivera, the leader of the Latin Kings gang, who served as the getaway car driver. Rivera pleaded guilty in 2016 and later testified against his one-time associates, Sigfredo Garcia, the individual who pulled the trigger, and Katie Magbanua, the mother of Garcia’s children, who was in a relationship with “Adelson” at the time of the murder. In 2019, Garcia was found guilty during his joint trial with Magbanua, although the jury did not reach a verdict on the charges against her. However, she was subsequently convicted at trial last year.
During the trial, Charlie Adelson took the stand in his own defense, maintaining that he had been the victim of “double extortion” orchestrated by the actual killers. He claimed they had demanded money through Katie Magbanua on the night of the murder, along with the alleged involvement of an FBI agent posing as a blackmailer. Adelson and his legal team contended that the comments he made in incriminating wiretaps and recorded calls were primarily related to the extortion scheme and not connected to the murder itself. However, it appears that the jury ultimately rejected this explanation in reaching their verdict.