Paul L. Caron

Monday, July 18, 2016

Lawyer Denies Adelson Family's Involvement In Dan Markel's Murder, Fingers Florida State Law Students, PrawfsBlawg Readers As Possible Suspects

Markel & AdelsonThe Orlando Sun-Sentinel has a long (2,200 word) article on Dan Markel's murder, FSU Law Professor Fought Ex-wife in the Courts Until Murderous End. The article includes a lot of detail on Dan's divorce from Wendi Adelson, the animosity between Dan and the Adelson family, and the police's belief that the Adelsons hired the hit men who killed Dan. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the article is the Adelson family lawyer's comments about possible other suspects in the murder:

"The Adelsons had absolutely nothing to do with Dan Markel's murder," Michael D. Weinstein, lawyer and family friend to the Adelsons, said Saturday from Norway, where he is vacationing. "There might be other people who had motive as well." ...

Garcia's probable cause affidavit, investigators laid out their theory, which focused mainly on Donna Adelson and Wendi's brother Charlie. Charlie Adelson also did not like Markel; he is the apparent link between the family and Garcia, police said. Investigators said Charlie Adelson had a "personal relationship" and frequent phone contact with Katherine Magbanua, a South Florida woman who has two children with Garcia.

Perhaps FSU students, or people reacting to Markel's blog, PrawfsBlawg, had it in for the law professor, Weinstein said Saturday. "He had a lot of people angry with him," Weinstein said. ...

Weinstein predicted that Garcia and Rivera would remain the sole suspects in the slaying and they would likely opt to quickly go to trial. "I think it's going to be a speedy trial," Weinstein said. "I don't think there's going to be any more arrests."

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Anon, their lawyers won't have much luck convincing a jury that the neighbor eyewitness saw another Prius when the gps and cell records place their Prius at the crime scene. Now they can get a much lighter sentence if they turn in the Adelsons.

Posted by: Rob | Jul 20, 2016 6:47:59 PM

The above comments are about as sad and ridiculous as the murder was horrific. Glad none of the commenters are investigators or prosecutors working the case.

Posted by: Diogenes | Jul 20, 2016 4:05:42 AM

Rivera's lawyer said he expects they will be tried together. The Democrat reported that grand jurors heard recorded phone calls. Always interesting when people comment without following the journalism that's been done aside from blogs.

Posted by: Anon2009 | Jul 19, 2016 11:09:36 PM

@ ATMbuff,

That would still at a minimum be felony murder for both defendants, which in Florida, can be first degree murder depending on the underlying felony.

Posted by: JM | Jul 19, 2016 8:44:28 AM

Garcia's trial is set for November 14. Rivera's trial will presumably be separate. What's to prevent each defendant from claiming that the other was the shooter, and that the plan was only to frighten Markel?

Posted by: AMTbuff | Jul 19, 2016 7:52:55 AM

Everyone keeps mentioning wiretaps. I don't remember seeing any reference made to wiretaps. Source?

Posted by: wiretaps? | Jul 19, 2016 7:12:16 AM

@ Rob,

Of course they are guilty. The question is whether it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Any yes, there is an eyewitness to the murder. However, all he saw was a silver/blue Prius, he did not (to my knowledge) see the now famous "identifying characteristics" of the vehicle the defendants drove. Defendants' attorney will argue it could have been another Silver/Blue Prius. Call it the My Cousin Vinny defense.

The big issue for the State right now, as I mentioned before, is connecting the Adelsons. Not only because they want to arrest the Adelsons, but because this is how they establish motive against the two current defendants. Without more than what we have seen, I don't think they can even mention the Adelsons at trial, which makes their murder-for-hire theory pure speculation without any tangible evidence. Especially if they can't find a record of payment. Without a murder for hire theory (i.e. motive) there is a concerning hole in this case.

Posted by: JM | Jul 19, 2016 6:40:10 AM

the cops approached Garcia in May so you have to figure they thought they had enough evidence.

Posted by: Anon2009 | Jul 18, 2016 7:35:57 PM

They r guilty

Posted by: Rob | Jul 18, 2016 5:08:01 PM

There is an eyewitness to the murder. The next door neighbor of markel saw the Prius matching the exact description of the Prius traced to Garcia and Rivera backing out of Markell's driveway immediately after hearing the fatal gunshots and then saw that Prius fleeing the scene. That coupled with all the cellphone data placing them at the crime scene, GPS from the rental car placing them at the crime scene, and the wire taps with all the incriminating phone conversations = guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by almost any jury.

Posted by: Rob | Jul 18, 2016 5:05:32 PM

I can't believe that the Govt would offer anything less than life in prison for a guilty plea to murder by hire.

That's what they would need to do to get a deal if the probability of acquittal is high. With two suspects you only have to deal one of them down, making it a little more palatable as a means to reach the prime mover.

Posted by: AMT buff | Jul 18, 2016 11:28:03 AM

ATM Buff,

There is no reason for the defendants to plea bargain at this point. They have a legitimate shot at acquittal or a hung jury. I can't believe that the Govt would offer anything less than life in prison for a guilty plea to murder by hire. Furthermore, I am not a criminal lawyer, so I am not sure of this, but I would have to think that the offer to bargain down from the death penalty recommendation to life in prison would still be available after a conviction but before sentencing if it meant getting testimony on a couple more murderers. So the Defendants have nothing to lose by taking this to a verdict.

Posted by: JM | Jul 18, 2016 10:59:06 AM

You read about the sequence of events in that divorce case and you just have to shake your head at the folly of it all.

Posted by: Art Deco | Jul 18, 2016 10:13:53 AM

JM, I hope you are wrong. Will the suspects prefer to gamble on acquittal rather than make a deal to reveal their employer? That depends on their evaluation of their odds and on how good the deal is. If at some point in the process the prosecution and defense have a similar estimate of the probability of conviction, then a plea bargain should occur.

Posted by: AMT buff | Jul 18, 2016 9:23:23 AM

It leaked from the Grand Jury that there were wiretaps. That might plug those holes.

Posted by: SuperDooper | Jul 18, 2016 9:14:17 AM

I think Occam'z Razor suggests, nay demands, that a random internet commenter hired the father of the children of Adelson's girlfriend to kill his ex-brother-in-law. Because random Prawfsblawg commenters would totally know all about Markel's ex-brother-in-law's girlfriend's ex-significant other. Uh huh.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jul 18, 2016 8:20:16 AM

Unfortunately, there is a not too insignificant chance that all of these suspects walk, including the two who have been arrested. You can't arrest any Adelsons without a more direct link to the plot, and without a link to the Adelsons, there is no tangible motive for the killers. No murder weapon, no DNA evidence at the scene of the crime, no motive = difficult case. They do have them clearly stalking Markel on the morning of the crime, and an eyewitness indicating a car matching there car's description was in the driveway when the murder occurred. That is a lot, but is it enough. Defendants will take the fifth, and their attorney will deny that it was their silver Prius in the driveway. In closing, will claim that all Government has shown is that they were on the same road at the same time as Markel, that his clients never heard of Markel before and had nothing to do with him.

Posted by: JM | Jul 18, 2016 6:35:57 AM

How would Weinstein know? He hasn't seen any of the evidence in the case. He's just a spokesman and family friend, not even the Adelson's actual lawyer. If the cops had an airtight case against the Adelsons, he wouldn't know about it. We're supposed to believe that an angry student or blogger hired the hit men- and coincidentally hired a shooter who just happened to be associated with the Adelsons?

I understand that it is the duty of a lawyer to advocate for their client. He's not their lawyer, no ethical mandate here, so he just sounds like a delusional liar.

Posted by: SuperDooper | Jul 18, 2016 6:14:44 AM

All I read was the headline.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 18, 2016 5:23:25 AM