Paul L. Caron

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Who Paid For The Hit On Dan Markel? Charlie Adelson's Name Keeps Coming Up.

Following up on my previous post, Brian Leiter (Chicago): Was Wendi Adelson Involved In Dan Markel's Murder?:  Miami Herald, Who Paid For Hit on FSU Prof? In Lurid Trial, a Broward Dentist’s Name Keeps Coming Up:

Adelson (Charlie)Hours after Florida State University law professor Daniel Markel was shot and killed in his car at his Tallahassee home in July 2014, his ex-wife Wendi Adelson sat with an investigator at the Tallahassee Police Department, shaking, crying and burying her face in her hands.

When the investigator told Wendi the shooting was intentional and they needed to find out who murdered the father of her two children, she blurted out a name: Charlie Adelson, her older brother and confidant.

“[Charlie] knew that Danny always treated me badly and it was always this joke,” Wendi Adelson, also an FSU law professor, told police. “He said: ‘I looked into hiring a hit man and it was cheaper to get you this TV so instead I got you this TV … but he would never … it’s such a horrible thing to say.’”

Charlie Adelson, a Tamarac periodontist, has not been charged in the case and denies any involvement, but his name has come up again and again during a five-year investigation — and repeatedly during an ongoing three-week trial of two South Florida residents facing murder charges in Leon County for Markel’s death.

This week, a state prosecutor called Charlie Adelson an “unindicted co-conspirator” during an interview with the Miami Herald. And the Tallahassee Police Department has done little to hide its suspicions that he organized the hit. Three years ago, police even released a draft of a probable cause affidavit against Adelson that the local state attorney rejected as insufficient to file charges. ...

[P]rosecutors say they believe Charlie Adelson financed the scheme to kill Markel, giving $100,000 in cash and gifts to the two hit men. The suggested motive: to end a court order and the emotional strain that had barred Wendi from relocating her children to South Florida after her bitter divorce from Markel. ...

While lead prosecutor Cappleman prepared a probable cause affidavit against Charlie Adelson in 2016, her former boss — now-retired state attorney Willie Meggs — concluded they didn’t have the evidence to convict him. Meggs told the Tallahassee Democrat the cops simply hadn’t collected enough evidence.

“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.’”

Still, Tallahassee police released the unexecuted affidavit to the Tallahassee Democrat in 2016. That turned what had been a whisper of suspicion against Charlie Adelson into a continuing conversation.

During the trial, prosecutors never produced a witness who could link Adelson to either Rivera or Garcia. But they did show that Magbanua’s finances improved dramatically after the murder. ...

Tara Kawass, her attorney, told the jury her client had been offered immunity to testify against Charlie Adelson and asked Magbanua to explain why she turned it down.

“I wish I could because I wouldn’t be incarcerated — and I’d be free and I’d be with my children,’‘ Magbanua said.

“Why haven’t you done that?’‘ Kawass asked. “Because I’m telling the truth,’‘ Magbanua answered.

“Do you think Charlie Adelson was involved in this?” her attorney also asked her. “And that he was lying to you?”

“Yes,” Magbanua replied.

Magbanua’s lawyers say Garcia is guilty and Adelson should be arrested. They argue that Garcia was bitter and jealous of Adelson, so in July 2014, he approached the dentist and agreed to murder Markel without telling his girlfriend.

“If you stay away from Katie Magbanua, I’ll do this,’’ Kawass suggested was his offer.

For their part, Garcia’s attorneys argued that the state has tethered its entire case against their client on the testimony of Rivera, a career criminal and gang member serving a 19-year sentence in federal prison. They said Garcia would never have helped Adelson, whom he bitterly disliked for dating Magbanua, the mother of his children.

“They want you to believe that this man, whose heart was broken, decided: ‘You know what? I’m going to help out the guy who’s with my wife,’‘ said Garcia’s attorney Saam Zangeneh. “The only person who said Sigfredo Garcia killed Dan Markel is Luis Rivera.”

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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