A grand jury indicted Adelson and his co-defendant, Katherine Magbanua, in April 2022 for working together to plot Markel’s death. The two men contracted to kill Markel, Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera, were charged with homicide in 2016. Garcia was convicted of first-degree murder, while Rivera pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Rivera was sentenced to 19 years in prison and Garcia is serving life in the Florida Department of Corrections.
Magbanua was also charged in 2016, but the jury could not reach a verdict at her first trial in 2019. She went back to court in 2022, and a jury convicted her of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and solicitation to commit first-degree murder. A judge sentenced her to life in prison without parole.
According to Adelson’s probable cause affidavit, on July 18, 2014, at 11:02 a.m., Tallahassee Police responded to a shooting call at Markel’s home and found the law professor "slumped over the driver seat of his vehicle from an apparent gunshot wound to the head." Medics transported him to a hospital, where he died hours later.
Markel had reportedly been on the phone at the time of the shooting and said there was "someone he did not recognize" in his driveway. The person on the phone heard "what sounded like a loud grunt" as well as other concerning noises. After that, Markel stopped responding.
A witness noticed a Toyota Prius at Markel’s home on the day of the murder.
Magbanua was reportedly in a relationship with Adelson and had two children with Garcia. The affidavit says she contacted Garcia and Rivera to carry out the killing in exchange for compensation.
Markel’s estranged wife and Charlie Adelson’s sister, Wendi Adelson, kept her maiden name, so the affidavit argues Charlie Adelson was the only common link between the three other suspects and Markel.
Two years before the fatal shooting, Wendi Adelson and Markel went through a "bitter" divorce. She filed for divorce in September 2012, and the dissolution of their marriage was finalized in July 2013. Charlie Adelson and their parents were reportedly "determined to relocate Wendi and the two Markel children to South Florida," where the rest of the family lived. Wendi Adelson made the move, but Markel went to court about it and the judge sided with Markel.
The affidavit alleges Wendi Adelson’s parents attempted to sway Markel to let Wendi Adelson and their children move to the southern part of the state. The mother allegedly told Wendi Adelson to offer Markel $1 million in exchange for the move. The plan was that the parents, Wendi Adelson, and Charlie Adelson would split the cost three ways. The mother also allegedly told Wendi Adelson to pretend she would convert their children to Catholicism even though Markel and the family were "very strict in the Jewish faith."
According to the court document, Charlie Adelson “did not like Markel and did not get along with him.” He reportedly previously did research about hiring a hit man and learned it would cost him $15,000. Wendi Adelson told investigators her brother "joked about hiring a hit man to kill Markel in the past."
Charlie Adelson allegedly made "a lot of jokes" about it, including that he "looked into hiring a hit man, but it was cheaper to buy her a television as a divorce gift."
Wendi Adelson reportedly did not believe Charlie Adelson would actually follow through with it.
Garcia and Rivera reportedly rented the Prius and drove up from the Miami area to Tallahassee. Phone records showed Magbanua contacted Garcia and Charlie Adelson in the early hours of July 18, 2014.
According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Wendi Adelson’s mother, Donna Adelson, has not been charged in connection with the case.
After the conviction, Markel’s mother, Shelly Markel, said, "This has been a really long and terrible ordeal for all of us. It’s taken a long toll on our lives. And there’s a real sense of relief today."
You can check out Crime Watch Daily’s coverage of the case in the video below.