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Judge Refuses to Let Law Professor’s Former Brother-in-Law Out of Jail Ahead of Assassination Trial

Charlie Adelson appears in a Broward County Fla. Sheriff's Office mugshot.

Charlie Adelson appears in a Broward County Fla. Sheriff’s Office mugshot.

The former brother-in-law of murdered Florida State University law professor Dan Markel, 41, must stay behind bars before trial.

A judge denied Charlie Adelson, 45, eligibility for bond in a hearing on Friday in Leon County, Florida.

Prosecutors claim they can show that Adelson, through his then-lover Katherine Magbanua, got gunmen Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera to ambush Markel while the victim was arriving home on July 18, 2014. Authorities long suspected that Adelson’s family was involved: Markel had an ugly split with Charlie’s sister Wendi Adelson, and the Adelsons were fighting to get custody of the former married couple’s two sons.

“Investigators believe motive for this murder stemmed from the desperate desire of the Adelson family to relocate Wendi and the children to South Florida, along with the pending court hearing that might have impacted their access to the grandchildren,” said an affidavit filed in 2019.

Murder victim Dan Markel. (Image via the Law&Crime Network.)

Murder victim Dan Markel. (Image via the Law&Crime Network.)

The Adelson family has denied wrongdoing. After all these years, Charlie was only indicted in April. Authorities previously charged Magbanua and Garcia, with Rivera pleading guilty to second-degree murder for a 19-year prison sentence and testifying against them. This first trial ended in Garcia’s conviction, but jurors were deadlocked on Magbanua, necessitating a retrial. That redo happened after Adelson’s indictment, and prosecutors brought forward a newly revealed recording of him speaking to Magbanua at the Dulce Vida restaurant in Miami. Prosecutors construed this as proving the couple plotted Markel’s death.

“That’s the new evidence,” Campbell said, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. “We’ve been able to hear things from the Dulce video that we weren’t able to hear until this most recent enhancement. We’ve never stopped working it and we appreciate the efforts of all of our law enforcement partners.”

Magbanua attorney Tara Kawass said in the second trial that authorities only recorded Adelson’s part of the conversation. Besides, he was only speaking in scenarios, she said.

Kawass described Magbanua as the overwhelmed listener in a one-sided conversation. She cited one of Adelson’s friends, and described him as overbearing in conversation, repeating the same thing over and over in different ways.

Kawass argued in the trials that Magbanua had nothing to do with the shootings, and she attacked Rivera as a “liar” who fabricated his account based on details investigators had revealed to him.

The only thing her client was guilty of, she sad, was having “horrible taste in men.” She argued that Garcia, who had children with Magbanua and loved his “wifey,” hated Adelson too much to help kill Markel. She said that her client had ended the relationship with Garcia in 2013, kicking him out of the apartment because of his drinking, infidelity, and involvement in cocaine. Magbanua moved on to a casual, fun relationship with her boss Adelson, but she had no knowledge of or role in the Markel murder, the attorney said.

Prosecutors, however, won a conviction against Magbanua on charges including first-degree murder. They maintained she was essential player in the assassination plot.

Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report.

[Images via Law&Crime Network, Broward County Sheriff’s Office]

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