Florida Dentist Convicted of Murder After Hiring Hitman to Kill Brother-in-Law During Sister's Custody Battle

A jury found Charlie Adelson, 47, guilty of all counts in the 2014 murder of his former brother-in-law Dan Markel

<p>Florida State University College of Law</p> Dan Markel, left, and Charlie Adelson

Florida State University College of Law

Dan Markel, left, and Charlie Adelson

A Florida dentist was found guilty of hiring a hitman in 2014 to shoot and kill his former brother-in-law who was in the midst of a custody battle with his sister.

On Monday, a jury in Tallahassee convicted Charlie Adelson, 47, of all counts in the 2014 shooting death of Dan Markel, 41, a popular Florida State University law professor, The Tallahassee Democrat reports.

The jury found him guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and solicitation of first-degree murder.

The jury deliberated for three hours before coming to a decision, The Tallahassee Democrat reports. When Charlie first heard the word “guilty,” he mouthed the word “no” and put his head down on the defense table, according to the outlet.

Prosecutors argued that Charlie hatched the murder-for-hire plot on behalf of his younger sister, Wendi Adelson, during the sensational case with unbelievable twists and turns that drew national attention.

Related: Former Brother-in-Law Charged with Murdering Florida Law Professor Dan Markel Amid Custody Battle

After Markel and Wendi divorced, she wanted to move to Miami with their two children to be closer to her family, the Associated Press reports, but a judge said she couldn’t do so without the consent of her ex-husband, who said he didn’t want her to move across the state with the children.

On the morning of July 18, 2014, Markel was shot twice in the head at point-blank range after returning home from bringing his children to preschool and going to the gym.

He was sitting in his Honda Accord in the garage of his Tallahassee home talking on the phone when he was shot.

He was rushed to a local hospital and died 14 hours later. Wendi has denied any involvement in the murder and has never been charged.

Related: Did a Divorce Fight Over Children Lead to Florida Professor's Execution-Style Slaying?

Prosecutors argued that Charlie enlisted the help of his then-girlfriend, Katherine “Katie” Magbanua, to hire the father of her children, Sigfredo “Tuto” Garcia, to kill Markel, the AP reports.

Garcia had his longtime friend, Luis “Tato” Rivera, help him, prosecutors said.

Garcia, the suspected triggerman who drove to Tallahassee with Rivera from Miami in a rental vehicle, was convicted in 2019 and sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years for conspiracy.

From left, Luis Rivera, Katherine Magbanua and Sigfredo Garcia
From left, Luis Rivera, Katherine Magbanua and Sigfredo Garcia

Rivera, a former Latin King gang leader, pleaded guilty in 2016 to second-degree murder in a plea deal.

Related: Man Convicted of Killing Popular Florida Law Professor Dan Markel

In 2022, Magbanua was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder, conspiracy and solicitation to commit murder.

Her first trial resulted in a hung jury. She is appealing.

Extortion Claims

During the trial, Charlie took the stand, testifying that he had nothing to do with Markel’s murder, WPLG reports.

Charlie and his attorneys argued that his ex-girlfriend and the two men planned the murder without his knowledge and then extorted him over it, WPLG reports.

On the stand, when asked if he would ever take his nephews’ father away from them, Charlie replied, “Never in a million years,” WPLG reports.

Charlie testified that he had no idea who Rivera was before he was arrested, WPLG reports.

He testified that Magbanua told him that her ex-husband and his friend had killed Markel and that he needed to pay more than $300,000 in 48 hours – or else he would be killed, the AP reports.

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Markel’s family was relieved at the verdict.

“This has been a really long and terrible ordeal for all of us,” his sister, Shelly Markel said, according to The Tallahassee Democrat. “It’s taken a long toll on our lives. And there’s a real sense of relief today.”

Charlie faces up to life in prison.

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