A Florida dentist was arrested Thursday for hiring hitmen eight years ago to kill his sister’s ex-husband, a prominent law professor, so she could return to the Fort Lauderdale area from Tallahassee with her two children.
Charles Adelson, 45, was being held without bond Thursday at Broward County Jail on charges of first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation to commit murder after being arrested at his home by U.S. Marshals. He is awaiting his transfer to Tallahassee. His lawyer said Thursday he was innocent.
Adelson and other members of his family have long been cited by prosecutors and investigators as potential suspects in the July 18, 2014 murder of Florida State University law professor Dan Markel by two men at his home in Tallahassee.
Markel, 41, had been married to Wendi Adelson, who was unable to return to South Florida because Markel had joint custody of their young children after a highly contentious divorce.
Markel was born and raised in Toronto before moving to the United States for his post-secondary education, where he eventually continued to reside.
2nd trial scheduled for another accused
Leon County State’s Attorney Jack Campbell said in a statement that Adelson was indicted by a grand jury after technicians were able to improve the sound of an April 2016 video recording secretly made of talking to him to a former girlfriend and employee, Katherine Magbanua. She was charged six months later with arranging the murder.
“This recording includes statements by Charles Adelson, which can be heard clearly for the first time,” Campbell said.
Magbanua is set to be retried next month on first-degree murder charges after a jury adjourned in 2019. Prosecutors say she hired Sigfredo Garcia, the father of her two children, to carry out the murder and that he demanded help from his childhood friend. , Luis Rivera.
Prosecutors said the two men drove from South Florida to Tallahassee to carry out the plan, stalking Markel the morning of the shooting as he dropped off his children at daycare and stopped at the gym. When Markel returned home, Garcia shot him as he sat in his car, talking on his cellphone.
Garcia is serving a life sentence after being convicted of first-degree murder in 2019. Rivera is serving a 19-year sentence after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for testifying against Garcia and Magbanua.
David Markus, Adelson’s attorney, said his client was innocent and linked the arrest to Magbanua’s retrial.
“Prosecutors have no new information that led to this arrest. The timing is really bad, isn’t it? [Magbanua]this decision smacks of desperation,” Markus said in an emailed statement.
Police release recording of alleged conspiracy
Campbell did not specify which statements led to Adelson’s arrest, but the 41-minute recording, taken while Adelson was under police surveillance, shows him sitting with Magbanua in a loud Mexican restaurant. The hidden camera recording them appears to be sitting on a bench across the aisle.
Adelson initially told Magbanua that if the police knew anything, “we would have gone to the airport by now.” He then told her that just because the police put someone in a car or with someone else is not enough for a conviction – they and the prosecutors need evidence that the person was involved in the crime. .
He then told her that someone approached his mother and asked her for money. He told Magbanua that the man knew details of the murder and mentioned her.
But as he wondered if the extortionist might be an undercover policeman trying to shake his mother off, he denied any involvement in the shooting – which he repeatedly did throughout the conversation.
“If it’s a cop, I’m happy because I have nothing to hide,” Adelson told Magbanua.
He then told Magbanua she should contact the extortionist and tell him a one-time payment would be made, but the Adelsons will contact the police if he or anyone else asks for more money.
“The whole time you’re talking, you’re just saying, ‘I don’t know what’s going on,'” Adelson told her. “If it’s the police, they can’t take the money. They won’t even come to meet you.”
He tells Magbanua that his mother cannot meet the extortionist as it will only lead to further demands. “If my parents were guilty, they might think they have a really big fish at stake that is going to pay them every month,” he said.
He tries to allay Magbanua’s concerns by telling her, “You giving someone money is not an admission of any kind of guilt.”