TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A jury on Monday convicted a South Florida dentist of murder in the shooting death of his former brother-in-law, a prominent professor outside his Tallahassee home in 2014 following a bitter custody battle with the dentist’s sister.
The verdict signaled jurors believed the prosecutors’ contentions that the defendant, Charles Adelson, paid to have Florida State University law professor Dan Markel killed that year.
Adelson was convicted of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and solicitation of first-degree murder, The Tallahassee Democrat reported after jurors returned their verdict Monday afternoon.
Markel’s parents, Ruth and Phil Markel, and his sister, Shelly Markel, attended much of the trial and spoke to a group of reporters after Monday’s verdict.
“This has been a really long and terrible ordeal for all of us,” Shelly Markel said. “It’s taken a long toll on our lives. And there’s a real sense of relief today.”
Adelson’s sister Wendi Adelson had divorced from Markel and shared custody of their two children. She wanted to move from Tallahassee in the north of the state to South Florida to be closer to her family. However, a judge at the time ruled that Wendi Adelson couldn’t relocate without Markel’s consent and he refused, saying she couldn’t move the children to Miami.
Prosecutors told jurors at 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.
Markel was shot as he sat in his car outside his home.
In a nine-year-old case with many twists and turns, Adelson took the stand on Thursday as the only defense witness at his trial, saying prosecutors got the facts of the case wrong. He said in his testimony that he felt a sense of relief to final tell the public that he was a victim of extortion and not the mastermind who hired the hitmen who shot Markel.
He further testified that he had nothing to do with the killing and that he was stunned when Magbanua came to his home and said her friends were the killers. The dentist said she told him he needed to pay more than $300,000 in 48 hours or he also would be killed.
Prosecutors told jurors in closing arguments that there were far too many inconsistencies with Adelson’s trial testimony.
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