TALLAHASSES, Fla. (AP) — A jury on Monday convicted a Florida dentist of murder in the 2014 shooting death of his former brother-in-law, a law professor slain outside his Tallahassee home in the aftermath of a bitter custody battle with Adelson's sister.
The jurors signaled Monday in returning a verdict that they believed prosecutors’ contentions that the defendant, Charles Adelson, paid to have Florida State University professor Dan Markel killed that year.
Adelson was convicted of first-degree murder along with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and solicitation of first-degree murder, The Tallahassee Democrat reported after jurors returned with a verdict Monday afternoon following deliberations.
Markel was slain in the aftermath of a legal battle that Adelson's sister had waged with the law professor over custody of their two children.
In a nine-year-old case with many twists and turns, Adelson took the stand as the only defense witness at trial. He said during testimony last week that he felt a sense of relief to final tell the public he was a victim of extortion and not the mastermind who hired the hitmen who shot Markel while he sat in a car outside his home.
Adelson’s sister Wendi Adelson had divorced from Markel and shared custody of their two kids. She wanted to move from Tallahassee to South Florida to be closer to her family, but a judge ruled that Wendi Adelson couldn’t without Markel’s consent and he refused, saying she couldn’t relocate the children to Miami.
Prosecutors told jurors during the trial that Adelson paid to have the prominent professor killed and that he used his girlfriend, Katherine Magbanua, to hire the father of her two children, Sigfredo Garcia, to commit the murder. They said Garcia enlisted the help of his childhood friend, Luis Rivera. Magbanua and Garcia were convicted of first-degree murder and Rivera is serving a 19-year sentence after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for testifying against them.
Adelson testified that he had nothing to do with the murder and that he was stunned when Magbanua came to his home and said her friends were the killers. He said she also told him he needed to pay more than $300,000 in 48 hours or he would be killed.
Prosecutors told the jury in closing arguments that there were far too many coincidences to believe Adelson’s trial testimony.
The Associated Press