Chatty dentist only had one thing to say before he was locked up for murdering Dan Markel


A 47-year-old Florida dentist found guilty in early November of masterminding the 2014 murder of his former brother-in-law, FSU law professor Dan Markel, was sentenced in a Leon County courtroom Tuesday to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Dan Markel’s father Phil Markel, recounting all of his son’s academic achievements and the joys of fatherhood, delivered victim impact statements Tuesday calling the Adelson family, and Charlie Adelson “in particular,” a “major cause of our heartbreak” in the murder of his son and the “loss of our two grandsons.”

“It is satisfying to see justice being done, and it would be appropriate to ask for the maximum sentence for the perpetrators of Danny’s murder,” Phil Markel said. “Thank you, today is a good day.”

When it was Charlie Adelson’s turn to speak, he only had one thing to say.

“I would just like to say that I maintain my innocence,” he said.

“Well … please rise, I am now going to announce the sentence,” Judge Stephen Everett responded, before sentencing Charlie Adelson to life in prison without the possibility of parole for murder, 30 years for conspiracy to commit murder, and 30 years for solicitation to commit murder. The latter two sentences were set to run consecutively with the first.

At trial, Charlie Adelson and his defense repeatedly acknowledged that he likes to talk too much, whether on the phone or in person. Still, the defense insisted Charlie Adelson was not “only innocent” of Markel’s murder, but also a victim himself — of an elaborate extortion plot.

On the other hand, prosecutors hammered away at the point that Charlie Adelson had the money and the connections through his then-girlfriend Katherine Magbanua to solicit and carry out the murder of the father of his nephews and the ex-husband of his sister, Wendi Adelson, amid a child custody dispute that angered family matriarch Donna Adelson.

Chief Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman previously said that Adelson’s testimony about being an extortion victim of Magbanua’s after the shooting — under the notion that Miami-based Latin Kings gang members Sigfredo Garcia, the father of Magbanua’s children, and gang leader Luis Rivera, would kill Charlie if he didn’t pay them a third of a million dollars within 48 hours  — simply didn’t add up.

Prosecutors said Charlie Adelson’s testimony about being extorted almost immediately after the Markel murder was “really unreasonable” under closer scrutiny.

“These two dudes, with no connection at all to Dan Markel, and without two nickels to rub together, rented a car and paid for gas to come to Tallahassee and stay at a hotel — twice — in order to kill someone the defendant hated, to harm him [the defendant],” Cappleman said with doubt in her voice.

“And for what?” the prosecutor asked. “To maybe get money? Maybe he just turns them in for murder. Why not just kill and rob him if what you’re after is money and there’s no hired hit? Why not just kill and rob him if your motive is we hate him?”

Adelson testified that he thought about going to the police about the purported extortion scheme, but he said he never did so because he thought he or his family members would be harmed. Instead, he agreed to an “extortion layaway plan,” where he would continue paying the supposed extortionists — the hitmen — $3,000 per month until the debt was paid.

Charlie Adelson, Dan Markel

Charlie Adelson appears in court for sentencing on Dec. 12, 2023 (Law&Crime Network), Dan Markel (Law&Crime Network file photo)

During the case, defense attorney Daniel Rashbaum attempted to poke holes in the prosecution’s arguments by saying that a seemingly damning remark his client made repeatedly was actually a “complete joke.” Adelson, the defense said, joked about buying a TV for his sister Wendi Adelson as a divorce present because it was cheaper than getting her a hitman.

Adelson said in court that was the “stupidest thing” he’s ever said in his life.

“When I gave her the TV set as a divorce present — stupidest thing I ever said in my life — and I said, ‘I was gonna get you a hitman, but the TV set was a lot cheaper so I went with the TV set instead.’ I said it as a complete joke and it was stupid but I do that a lot,” the defendant said, also saying that he told the joke to Magbanua and others, even those he hardly knew.

Donna Adelson, for her part, was arrested at Miami International Airport with a one-way ticket to Vietnam just one week after her son was convicted. Her probable cause affidavit detailed that Charlie Adelson’s phone calls with her didn’t cease after he was convicted of murder.

“Jail calls from after Charles Adelson’s guilty verdict include multiple calls in which Donna Sue Adelson is telling Charles Adelson that she is getting things in order, creating trusts, and making sure her grandchildren are taken care of,” the affidavit said. “Donna discusses plans for a suicide, but also discusses plans to flee to a non-extradition country.”

She appeared in court as recently as Monday and pleaded not guilty to murder charges, while also being on the receiving end of some stern words from Judge Everett on her courtroom behavior.

“Ms. Adelson, please keep your comments to yourself,” the judge remarked when the defendant was heard saying “Oh my God” as her allegedly expressed plan to kill herself by taking sleeping pills was discussed in court. “Let your lawyer [Marissel Descalzo] argue on your behalf.”

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