TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A jury on Monday convicted a Florida dentist of murder in the 2014 shooting death of his former brother-in-law, a prominent law professor slain outside his Tallahassee home in the wake of a bitter custody battle with the dentist's sister.
The jurors signaled Monday in returning a verdict that they believed the prosecutors’ contentions that the defendant, Charles Adelson, paid to have Florida State University professor Dan Markel killed that year.
Adelson was convicted of first-degree murder along with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and solicitation of first-degree murder, The Tallahassee Democrat reported after jurors returned with their verdict Monday afternoon.
Adelson’s sister Wendi Adelson had divorced from Markel and shared custody of their two kids. 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 Wendi Adelson couldn’t relocate without Markel’s consent and he refused, saying she couldn’t move the children to Miami.
Prosecutors told jurors during the 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. 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 added 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. He said she told him he needed to pay more than $300,000 in 48 hours or he would be killed.
Prosecutors told the jury in closing arguments that there were far too many inconsistencies to believe Adelson’s trial testimony.