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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, September 9, 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)

Adelson FamilyProbable Cause First Degree Murder/Principal First Degree Murder:

Daily Mail, Brother-in-Law Will NOT Be Charged in Murder of FSU Professor Who Was Locked in Vicious Custody Battle With His Sister Despite Years of Police Investigation:

The former brother-in-law of a prominent Florida State University law professor will not be charged in the alleged murder-for-hire plot that led to his death.  Charlie Adelson and his girlfriend Katherine Magbanua have both avoided charges in the murder of Dan Markel, the Tallahassee Police Department have revealed. ...

State Attorney Willie Meggs approved charges against Garcia and Rivera, but did not feel there was sufficient evidence to go forward with cases against Adelson and Magbanua.  Meggs said no additional arrests will be made in the case unless more evidence is found.

Garcia is the father of Magbanua's two children. In the three months before the murder, he called her 2,700 times, according to investigators. ... A number of phone calls also occured between midnight and 1am among Adelson, his mother Donna, Magbanua and Garcia on July 18, the day Markel was murdered. ...

The probable cause affidavit also reveals that in the days and months after the murder Garcia purchased a new car and motorcycle, according to WCTV. Records show Rivera also purchased a motorcycle within 10 days of the murder.

Meanwhile, Magbanua began receiving checks from Adelson and his father's dental practice, the Adelson Institute, from September 2014 to January 2016. In the year prior to Markel's murder, Magbanua was making cash deposits that totaled $15,000. In the months after the murder she was making deposits totaling $44,000, the affidavit states. ...

The probable cause affidavit for Charles Adelson revealed a judge refused to allow Wendi to move her sons to South Florida in June 2013. It states that the family then discussed paying Markel $1million to allow the children to relocate. ...

Wendi Adelson and several of her family members said in a statement earlier this month that speculation they had a role in Markel's murder is 'categorically false'.

Tallahassee Democrat, Documents Detail Potential Links to Markel's In-Laws:

New documents show that police believe the family of Dan Markel’s ex-wife Wendi Adelson tried to get her to offer him $1 million to allow their children to move to South Florida after their acrimonious divorce.

Documents also say investigators focused on her brother Charlie Adelson who they say also looked into hiring a hitman the summer before he was killed.

On Thursday, Tallahassee Police released probable cause affidavits submitted to the State Attorney's Office for everyone they believed was a suspect in the killing of Markel, including his former brother-in-law Charlie Adelson and former mother-in-law Donna Adelson.

The Adelsons are connected to Markel’s murder-for-hire plot investigators say but they have released few details as to how the plot transpired until their latest response to a public records request by the Tallahassee Democrat. ...

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.

State Attorney Willie Meggs said while the probable cause affidavits were filed with his office, they do little in the way of proving the Adelsons or Magbanua were connected to Markel’s shooting.

Bringing what he called “speculation” on the part of police investigators before a jury would make securing a conviction or even proceeding with a trial difficult. He said his office would not approve warrants for Charlie Adelson and Magbanua for that reason. “My opinion after reading those documents is there is no probable cause here to make an arrest,” Meggs said. “We kind of believe they were involved according to the police. But what we believe and what we think doesn’t count. What evidence do we have?

“When you read this stuff, you say these people had him killed. I don’t read it like that,” he continued. “How do we prove this? How do we prove what this officer believes, or thinks or suspects? What witnesses do we have for that purpose?”

Investigators found between the homicide in July 2014 and Nov. 2015, Magbanua deposited more than $56,000 in cash into her bank account. The deposits, the probable cause notes, were made mostly through ATMs in increments of $300 to $2,000. "Investigators believe that Magbanua is supported financially by Charlie Adelson and has received numerous benefits from the Adelsons since Markel's murder," the un-executed probable cause document says. ...

The document says analysis of cell phone calls showed on many occasions during the weeks leading up to Markel’s murder, Magbanua had phone contact with Charlie Adelson, which was then followed by phone contact between Charlie and Donna Aldeson – all of which coincided with Magbanua having contact with Garcia. “Investigators believe this pattern is consistent with Magbanua being the conduit during the planning of Markel’s murder,” the affidavit says.

It also provides extensive details of the contacts between the alleged co-conspirators on the morning of July 18, 2014. Among the noted calls is a more than six-minute call at 9:58 a.m. from Charlie Adelson to Magbanua. In the next 11 minutes, they contact each other three more times. Markel was killed around 11 a.m. At 11:06 a.m., Donna Adelson tried to contact her son and at 11:22 a.m. he calls her back and talks to her for seven minutes. He immediately makes two calls to Magbanua, the second lasting five minutes. At 12:30 p.m., Garcia calls Magbanua. It’s the first contact he initiates after Markel was killed.

The day Markel was killed, Wendi Adelson called her mother to tell her of the shooting. Afterward, Donna Adelson called Charlie, getting him on the second and third tries. Following the calls, Charlie Adelson called Magbanua and they spoke for nearly three minutes. "This call is significant," draft documents say,"because as previously stated, investigators believe Magbanua was the person that facilitated the homicide in that she is the link between Charlie Adelson and the shooters."

Above the Law, The Dan Markel Case: No Resolution In Sight:

[P]resumably prosecutors want Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera to reveal who actually ordered the hit that they allegedly carried out. And perhaps the defendants don’t want to share that information — or perhaps the information they are willing to share is not consistent with the prosecution’s apparent theory of the case, which alleges involvement by relatives of Wendi Adelson, Dan Markel’s ex-wife. (This is essentially the claim of David Oscar Markus, counsel to Wendi’s brother Charlie: Garcia and Rivera “have not flipped [on the Adelsons], because what would they say? They’d have to make up something that other evidence would disprove.”).

Garcia and Rivera’s current trial date is November 14. And this trial date might actually see a trial.

Above the Law, The Dan Markel Case: Some Updates On The Trials (Plural)

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/09/police-reveal-evidence-tying-adelson-family-to-dan-markels-murder-including-1-million-offer-to-allow.html

Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

A legal thought: How could a wrongful death suit be brought, if only the victim's children and perhaps the ex-wife had standing? (probably siblings and parents would too, so this is really a hypothetical)

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Sep 9, 2016 5:34:53 AM

While this is not an overwhelming case, people have been convicted on less evidence. Why no indictment? It doesnt make sense.

Posted by: Anon | Sep 9, 2016 6:50:53 AM

Ok, I've previously said that the evidence on the Adelsons was persuasive but not enough to indict, but the evidence set forth in that Affidavit against Charlie is huge.

- Garcia contacts Harvey Adelson directly on day of murder

- Charlie, Magbuana and Mother plot to take care of undercover cop seeking $5,000 payoff for info on murder. Charlie proposes to Magbuana that informant should be killed, and he could do it.

- Charlie tells KM he got Go-Pro for her husband (Garcia). Magbuana said it should have been his Ferrari, or transfer title to boat, which Charlie actually contemplates seriously.

Not enough to arrest? Seriously? Someone needs to check Willie Megg's bank accounts!

Posted by: JM | Sep 9, 2016 8:03:22 AM

Did the Adelson family make a significant contribution to the Clinton Foundation?

Posted by: Woody | Sep 9, 2016 9:20:01 AM

I think you'd have a hard time finding a tenured faculty member who'd take the money unless they had crushing debts, even had it not amounted to an offer to Prof. Markel to sell his children.

One of the appealing things about professors is that they're financial satisficers. As long as they've hit their target financially, they cannot be bought. Larry Summers in 2008 was schlepping around in a 12 year old car. I don't think the Adelson's ever quite got their son-in-law.

Posted by: Art Deco | Sep 9, 2016 10:15:51 AM

In Florida, I understand if you make a $25,000 donation to the AG's campaign they will drop the case against you.

Posted by: The Donald | Sep 9, 2016 11:29:38 AM

In this bizarre case, I suspect the authorities may be playing rope-a-dope with the Adelsons.

Posted by: Jack Bogdanski | Sep 9, 2016 1:56:06 PM

Hilarious. Did Comey make this decision, too?

Posted by: Anon | Sep 9, 2016 4:27:22 PM

Think OJ Simpson. Rich people can buy smart lawyers who make it very hard to convict them. You can call this laziness on the part of the prosecutor. You can call this saving prosecuting resources that'd be better spent elsewhere.

Whatever, that is one gosh-awful family.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Sep 9, 2016 5:31:44 PM

There can be no flipping yet since the are claiming they are innocent. If they are convicted they may open up.

Posted by: Jeffrey harrison | Sep 9, 2016 9:30:44 PM

Jim Comey said no charges would be filed because there was no evidence of intent.

Posted by: Anon | Sep 10, 2016 6:49:19 AM

Crazy that wendi has changed her sons' names to remove any connection to Dan and that wendi's mom threatened to raise them catholic(?) if dan didn't agree to give up joint custody. Even if they can't be convicted yet, they have already proven themselves classless folks willing to kill...

Posted by: Martha | Sep 10, 2016 11:54:23 AM

If Wendi has any sense of humanity and decency she will completely repudiate the actions of her mother and brother, cutting off all ties and moving her children as far away from the rest of her family as humanly possible. Even if the police don't have enough evidence, the most disgusting thing I can imagine is continuing to let them have a relationship with their grandmother.

Posted by: ppp | Sep 10, 2016 12:55:37 PM

Just another example of wealthy, privledged people thinking they are above the law and common decency doesn't apply to them.

Posted by: Sandy Pister | Sep 11, 2016 9:24:17 AM

@Sandy, I think "allegedly" having your son-in-law killed is slightly beyond common decency.

Posted by: Daniel | Sep 12, 2016 7:58:05 AM

Just another example of wealthy, privledged people thinking they are above the law and common decency doesn't apply to them.

Sandy, Law & Order was fiction. There are no armies of murderous bourgeois and murderous patricians. You're reading about this because it is very unusual. If it were banal, there would not be multi-part news stories about it.

Posted by: Art Deco | Sep 12, 2016 1:47:34 PM

If I was on the jury I would vote the death penalty for the two latin guys unless they explained a provable motive. Even a 7-year old knows that these two would not drive to Tallahassee just to shoot some random guy. I would call their bluff with the death penalty.

Posted by: Wayne Coogan | Sep 18, 2016 3:38:07 PM

Is there anything that can be done about this?

Posted by: Tonya | Oct 8, 2016 11:39:57 AM