Following up on yesterday's post, Adelson Family Will Not Be Charged In Dan Markel's Murder Despite Circumstantial Evidence Released By Police (Including $1 Million Offer To Allow Children To Move To Miami, Communication And Money Trail To Hit Men):
Tallahassee Democrat, Tensions Flare in Markel Case After Unexpected Document Drop:
After two years of investigation into the murder-for-hire plot of Dan Markel, prosecutors are unlikely to approve the arrest of his former in-laws.
Police chipped away at leads, drafting arrest affidavits filled with evidence laying out investigators’ case against Charlie and Donna Adelson, the brother and mother of Markel’s ex-wife Wendi Adelson.
Documents detailing their theories were made public Thursday.
But State Attorney Willie Meggs said the speculations of police investigators do not make a case for murder.
TPD's release of the documents is an indication of the tension between police — who have devoted extensive resources to piece together evidence — and prosecutors, who must rely on that evidence to try to secure a conviction.
Police have said since May, Charlie and Donna Adelson were involved in Markel’s 2014 shooting, which followed his acrimonious divorce and their deep desire to move the couple's two young children closer to them in South Florida. ...
The documents released Thursday ... go into great detail about phone conversations between co-conspirators and police interpretations of what those conversations meant.
But that’s the problem, Meggs said. It’s what investigators say, not necessarily what the evidence shows. Making the jump from theories to formal charges is a big leap. “If they believe that somebody said something and we’re supposed to adopt what an officer thinks and arrest somebody, that’s not the way it works," Meggs said.
After Meggs declined to approve probable cause for the arrest of Magbanua and Charlie Adelson, sources in the State ’s Office confirmed TPD began seeking the authority of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida.
Sources also say portions of the investigation that could have led to Magbanua’s arrest were bungled, primarily the chance to speak with her in the days before Garcia’s May 25 arrest. ...
Meggs said the documents released Thursday were working documents and should not have been made public.
TPD spokesman David Northway, however, said they were part of evidentiary discovery given to Garcia and Rivera’s defense attorney’s making them public. “Our job is to collect the evidence,” Northway said. “It’s the job of the State Attorney’s Office to determine if the case could be tried in a court of law.”
Meggs’ office and TPD have sparred since Garcia’s summer arrest. ... Meggs said those disagreements continue, but until police gather more substantial evidence that can be proven in court, there would likely be no more arrests in Markel's killing.
Officers can arrest Magbanua or the Adelsons without a warrant because they face felony charges, Meggs added. “If they believe they have probable cause then they should go make the arrest. They don’t need me,” Meggs said. “I would say to Chief (Michael) DeLeo go make the arrest and get ready for your civil suit from whoever they have arrested without probable cause.'”
Capitol News Service, Murder For Hire Case Has New Twists and Turns:
The probable cause affidavits detail a flurry of activity between the mother of accused killer Sigfredo Garcia kids, Katherine Magbanua and Charlie Adelson, the former brother in law of slain professor Dan Markel.
They have been suspects since the beginning, and on the day the two alleged hit men were indicted we asked State Attorney Willie Meggs about charges against the Adelson family. “They were not indicted….today” he said.
Police believe Brother in law Charles Adelson, who dated Magbanua for more than a year coordinated the murder through the woman. She has made more than 56 thousand dollars in mostly cash deposits since the murder.
The new information even shows police sent an undercover agent to the former mother in law, telling her telling her they knew about the crime, demanding five thousand dollars to keep quite. That contact prompted Charles Adelson to meet with Magbanua and discuss killing the undercover agent.
Still, State Attorney Meggs says there are too many opinions than not enough facts in the probable cause documents. “You know what we need in this is somebody to testify about those events, not what the officer believes from drawing his conclusions” says Meggs today.
An Attorney for accused hit man Luis Rivera, Charles Cooper, was asked this week if Rivera might cooperate in the case..
“No, there is no indication that he will be a cooperating defendants. I mean, they are seeking the death penalty against him” says the lawyer.
Above the Law, The Murder Of Dan Markel: The Case Against Donna Adelson:
My guess is that Dan, a devoted father to his two sons, would not have taken [the $1 million]. But police apparently believe this shows the strength of what they’ve previously called the Adelson family’s “desperate desire” for Wendi and the boys to escape Tallahassee and move down to the Miami area (as they ultimately did, after Markel was murdered). ...
Police say Katherine Magabanua, the mother of Garcia’s children and a former girlfriend of Charlie Adelson, is the link between the hitmen and the family. Following the murder, Rivera and Garcia purchased several cars and motorcycles around the same time Magbanua began receiving paychecks from the family’s dentistry practice. The checks were handwritten and signed by Donna Adelson. ...
Based on what Wendi Adelson has previously said about her mother, Donna Adelson sounds like a strong, formidable, controlling woman, with a seemingly unlimited devotion to her family and what she thinks best for them. The police presumably view Donna as not someone who would sign checks without knowing why or just because she was told to sign them (assuming her signatures weren’t forged).
Also, $56,000 — not counting other in-kind payments, such as half the cost of Magbanua’s breast implants — is not an insignificant amount of money. It’s not the kind of money that someone throws around on a whim. Yes, the Adelsons are wealthy, thanks to a successful dentistry practice and real estate investing, and you can tell they have money based on their high-priced defense lawyers and the $1 million they were reportedly willing to pay Dan to let Wendi and the boys move to South Florida. But they’re not billionaires. ...
[A] flurry of calls between the Adelsons, Magbanua, and Garcia — all within 90 minutes of Dan’s shooting, which had not yet been made public — is noteworthy. ...
[P]rosecutors have considered bringing charges against the Adelsons and Katherine Magbanua — and have made a conscious decision not to charge any of them, at least for the time being. ...
Whether or not they are ever brought to justice, whoever who ordered Danny Markel’s murder will — and should — have to live with that guilt for the rest of their lives. May the memory of what they did be a curse.
Above the Law, The Dan Markel Case: The Probable Cause Affidavit For Charlie Adelson:
Based on the above information, this investigator belives there is sufficient evidence to prove Charles Adelson, Katherine Magbanua, Sigfredo Garcia, and Luis Rivera are responsible for the murder of Daniel Markel.
That’s the final line of the twenty-four page probable cause affidavit in the investigation of the murder of Professor Dan Markel. ...
Charlie Adelson called Katherine Magbanua immediately after speaking with his mother Donna Adelson, presumably to discuss the shooting of Dan Markel. Investigators view this as “significant” in light of their belief that “Magbanua was the person that facilitated the homicide in that she is the link between Charlie Adelson and the shooters.” But Charlie would probably respond that it would be only natural for him to call his girlfriend with such major news. ...
I had received this report of Wendi changing the boys’ names some time ago, but from a source of mine on an “off the record” basis. Now that it’s in the PC affidavit, it can be reported. It strikes me as a sad attempt by Wendi to sever her boys’ remaining ties to their father and his side of the family. ...
I previously expressed curiosity about how an undercover agent was able to speak to the Adelsons about the Markel murder. The affidavit is a little cryptic, but it sounds like the agent made a blackmail threat to the Adelsons related to the killing. ...
State Attorney Willie Meggs has so far declined to approve arrest warrants for Katherine Magbanua or any of the Adelsons, dismissing theories implicating any of them as “speculation.” But no legal doctrine — no statute of limitations, no double jeopardy (jeopardy hasn’t attached), no speedy-trial concern (the clock hasn’t started running) — prevents Meggs from changing his mind about suspects he has not yet charged. Indeed, sources have told the Tallahassee Democrat to expect more arrests in this case.
Here’s an opinion that one of our Florida sources shared with us after reading the affidavit:
This seems like enough evidence [to make some moves]. However, Willie is a very, very good prosecutor (and former cop), and he doesn’t want to blow the one and only chance the state would get in this murder to prosecute. Better to sit and wait, and let the stress and strain uncover what it will. I think we have a very cool game of cat and mouse going on, and Willie is a master.
But whoever ordered the murder of Dan Markel — someone who has managed to escape arrest or prosecution for more than two years, someone who has not yet cracked under pressure — is no dummy either. Whether this cat catches his mouse, or whether someone will literally get away with murder, remains to be seen.
Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:
- Man Arrested In Murder Of Dan Markel (May 26, 2016)
- Dan Markel Killing Investigated As Murder for Hire, 5-6 More Arrests Expected (May 26, 2016)
- Update On Murder-For-Hire Investigation Into Dan Markel's Death (May 31, 2016)
- Police: Dan Markel Was Killed In Murder-For-Hire Plot Orchestrated By Ex-Wife's Brother (June 2, 2016)
- Anatomy Of The Hit On Dan Markel (June 4, 2016)
- Update On Murder-For-Hire Investigation Into Dan Markel's Death (June 6, 2016)
- Wendi Adelson Discusses Her Ex-Husband Dan Markel's Murder: Transcript And Commentary (June 8, 2016)
- Dan Markel's Law Prof Colleagues Finger Ex-Wife's Family In Murder-For-Hire Killing (June 10, 2016)
- Update On Murder-For-Hire Investigation Into Dan Markel's Death (June 13, 2016)
- Grand Jury Indicts Two Hit Men In Dan Markel's Murder, State Attorney Expects More Indictments; Girlfriend Of Ex-Brother-in-Law Denies Ex-Wife's Family's Involvement (June 18, 2016)
- Update On Murder-For-Hire Investigation Into Dan Markel's Death: In Defense Of Charlie Adelson (June 21, 2016)
- Update On Murder-For-Hire Investigation Into Dan Markel's Death: Hit Men Thwarted In Previous Attempt To Kill FSU Law Prof (June 27, 2016)
- Update On Murder-For-Hire Investigation Into Dan Markel's Death: Charlie Adelson Denies 'Any Involvement' (July 3, 2016)
- Lawyer Denies Adelson Family's Involvement In Dan Markel's Murder, Fingers Florida State Law Students, PrawfsBlawg Readers As Possible Suspects (July 18, 2016)
- Today Marks Two Year Anniversary Of Dan Markel's Murder (July 18, 2016)
- The Adelson Family (Through Their Attorneys) Deny Any Involvement In Dan Markel's Murder (Aug. 3, 2016)
- Prosecutors Seek Records Showing Wendi Adelson's Brother Paid For Breast Enhancement Surgery For Mother Of Hit Man's Children After Dan Markel's Murder (Aug. 20, 2016)
- Judge In Dan Markel Murder Case Approves Subpoena To See If Wendi Adelson's Brother Paid For Breast Implants For Mother Of Hit Man's Children (Aug. 23, 2016)
- Police Video Released Of Wendi Adelson Being Told Of Dan Markel's Murder, Says Her Brother Joked About Hiring A Hit Man (Aug. 27, 2016)
- FBI Interview With Ex-Girlfriend Of Dan Markel's Ex-Brother-in-Law/Mother Of Hit Man's Children (Aug. 28, 2016)
- Adelson Family Will Not Be Charged In Dan Markel's Murder Despite Circumstantial Evidence Released By Police (Including $1 Million Offer To Allow Children To Move To Miami, Communication And Money Trail To Hit Men) (Sept. 9, 2016)