Daniel Markel was a well-known Florida law professor, and his death in 2014 sparked a lot of discussion and conjecture in the community. There were enduring suspicions over the potential involvement of Markel’s ex-wife’s family in his murder despite three previous arrests related to the case. These long-standing worries were confirmed on November 6, 2023, with the arrest of Markel’s former brother-in-law, Charles Adelson. “20/20: First Divorced Then Dead” deftly examines the motivations behind the crime, revealing the nuances that caused law enforcement’s pursuit of Charles Adelson’s conviction to take several years.
Who is Charles “Charlie” Adelson?
Charles Adelson, who was born on October 27, 1976, in Fort Lauderdale, pursued a profession in medicine and became a periodontist. His parents are Harry and Donna Adelson. His sister Wendy Adelson got involved in a bitter custody struggle with her ex-husband Daniel Markel, which threw his family into a difficult court battle. Daniel Markel tragically lost his life in a shooting at his home in a posh neighbourhood of Tallahassee on July 18, 2014. Markel was found injured by the police, and though they tried, he passed away at a nearby hospital about 14 hours later from his wounds.
After Daniel Markel passed away, the inquiry encountered difficulties until 2016, at which point important discoveries were made. The phones of Charles, his mother, Katherine Magbanua, who was his girlfriend at the time, and Garcia had been bugged by undercover officers. Two suspects, Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera, were located and taken into custody as a result of their findings. Garcia was extradited from South Florida to Leon County Jail in May 2016 after being charged with murder. A grand jury subsequently indicted Garcia and Rivera in July 2016 for their suspected roles in Dan Markel’s death. Luis Rivera chose to take a plea bargain, acknowledging his guilt of second-degree murder in exchange for a 19-year jail term. Rivera consented to testify against Katherine Magbanua, Charles Adelson, and Sigfredo Garcia as part of his plea deal.
Regarding Daniel Markel’s killing, Katherine Magbanua was being held on first-degree murder charges in October of 2016. But because to delays in the court system, Sigfredo Garcia, the co-conspirator, was not put on trial by a jury until 2019. He was given a life term in jail after being found guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder during that trial. The COVID-19 pandemic further impeded the legal procedure, which resulted in Magbanua’s retrial in 2022. She was subsequently convicted guilty of soliciting murder, conspiring to commit murder, and first-degree murder. Magbanua was sentenced to life in prison and two further 30-year terms, both of which were to run concurrently with her life sentence.
After following Charles Adelson for a considerable amount of time, the police managed to record him informing Magbanua over the phone in 2016 that they didn’t have his identity and that he would have fled immediately if they had any evidence. Jeffrey Lacasse, Wendi Adelson’s ex-boyfriend, was also questioned by the police, and he first advised them to investigate into Charles. Jeffrey was informed by Wendi that Charles had investigated getting Daniel killed and had even provided a quote. Wendi dismissed it as a joke that was typical of Charles when asked.
Garcia had included information linking Charles Adelson and his mother to Daniel Markel’s contract killing in his arrest affidavit from 2016. The document described how Donna Adelson allegedly wanted Daniel’s ex-wife Wendy to try several tactics to pressure him, like making a $1 million offer or threatening to enrol Markel’s kids in a Catholic school. Wendy’s relocation petition was dismissed by a judge; she had hoped to relocate from Tallahassee to South Florida to be nearer to her family. Over time, the case against Charles Adelson developed. He was ultimately taken into custody in April 2022 on suspicion of first-degree murder, murderous conspiracy, and solicitation of murder.
Charlie Adelson is Serving His Time in Jail
The trial of Charles Adelson began in October 2023, with the Adelson family’s defence stating that they would consider giving Daniel Markel $1 million to enable Wendy and her two children to leave Tallahassee. The defence argued that this plot was known to Sigfredo Garcia, who also happened to be Katherine Magbanua’s father of two children. Together with Luis Rivera, they supposedly decided to kill Markel.
In the trial, Charles Adelson testified that Magbanua, his girlfriend at the time, acted as a go-between for threats made to hold Charles accountable for the murder. Adelson said that Garcia and Rivera used Magbanua to extort and coerce him. Additionally, he stated that he put her on the payroll of the family’s dental practice and paid her $138,000 plus thousands of additional cash over the course of the following few months. Up until Magbanua’s trial, when he allegedly came to understand her involvement in the plot, he allegedly continued to believe that she was innocent.
During Charles Adelson’s trial, Katherine Magbanua, who had adamantly maintained her innocence, testified that he had given her the order to hire Garcia and Rivera for the murder. She said that she lied throughout her trial in order to protect herself, but she now felt obliged to tell the truth. Presenting evidence that Charles Adelson had given Magbanua $138,000 in cash and created a “layaway plan” for the remaining amount significantly strengthened the prosecution’s case. He kept giving Magbanua lavish presents, put her on his family’s dental insurance, and gave her a $3,000 monthly allowance to provide to the hitmen they hired.
Charles Adelson, 47, was found guilty in November 2023 of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and solicitation of murder, marking the end of a protracted legal fight. After a case involving complex motivations, many arrests, and an extensive legal process, the conviction resulted in a life sentence, which he is currently serving at the Northwest Florida Reception Centre Annex in Florida.