Florida Dentist, Found Guilty of Hiring Gangland Hitmen To Kill His Harvard-Trained Brother in Law, To Appeal His Conviction

Charlie Adelson is currently at a corrections facility holding center while he awaits assignment to a state prison where he will begin his life sentence.

File Photo.
Charlie Adelson (left) was found guilty of the contract murder of Dan Markel, a law professor at Florida State University. File Photo.

Charlie Adelson, who is the millionaire Florida periodontist found guilty in November of hiring Latin Kings hitmen in 2014 to murder his former brother-in-law, the Harvard-trained law professor Dan Markel, is appealing his conviction.

Adelson, who was sentenced to life in prison last month,  has maintained his innocence. He is currently being held at the Northwest Florida Reception Center Annex at Chipley, Florida, while he awaits assignment to a state prison. 

His appellate lawyer, Michael Ufferman, has notified the courts of the appeal and now has  90 days to prepare his arguments. He has yet to file an initial appellate brief and says it’s “premature” for him to disclose any of the issues he’ll be bringing to light with the appeal. He has shared, however, that Adelson’s lawyers, Dan Rashbaum and Kathryn Myers, have been “wonderful to work with” thus far.

“They told me that they will be available for me to pick their brain moving forward, and I’ll certainly take them up on that,” Mr. Ufferman told the Tallahassee Democrat. “My initial starting point is, I want to get the record and the transcripts and review everything cover to cover.”

Dan Markel and Wendy Adelson, married for six years, feuded until the end. File Photo.

Adelson’s conviction was the fourth surrounding the death of Markel – a law professor at Florida State University in Tallahassee with two Harvard degrees who became ensnared in a bitter child custody battle with his ex-wife and Charlie’s sister, Wendi. Markel was shot dead in July of 2014 while he sat in his car in the garage of his modest Tallahassee home. His shooter, Sigfredo Garcia, who traveled up from Miami with his accomplice, a senior Latin Kings member named Luis Rivera, was, like Adelson, sentenced to life in prison. Rivera, who turned state’s evidence, was sentenced to 19 years for his role in the killing and for other, unrelated offenses. Garcia’s common-law wife and mother of his children, Katie Magbanua, who was Adelson’s girlfriend, was sentenced to life in prison for serving as the go-between between Adelson and the hitmen.  

Hitmen Sigfredo Garcia, who is the father of Katie Magbanua’s two children, and Luis Rivera, who is a high-ranking member of the Latin Kings. File Photo.

Prosecutors say the motivation for the murder was that Markel was refusing to let Wendi move with their children from Tallahassee to Miami, where her family owned a lucrative dental practice. Markel was using his legal skills to make the custody  battle unpleasant for the wealthy Adelsons. He had even requested of the courts that Wendi and Adelson’s mother, Donna Adelson, only be allowed to have supervised visitation with her grandchildren. 

Katie Magbanua, Charlie Adelson’s ex-girlfriend, convicted of Dan Markel’s murder, testified against Adelson. Courtroom feed. Courtroom Feed.

Donna herself currently sits behind bars after being arrested while trying to board a flight to Vietnam via Dubai – two countries that don’t have extradition treaties with the U.S. – alongside her dentist husband, Harvey. Awaiting her own murder trial on charges brought just one week after her son’s trial ended, Donna has already pleaded not guilty to murder, conspiracy, and solicitation. She will return to court on January 9 for a case management hearing.

Wendi has yet to be charged in connection with her former husband’s death, although prosecutors made clear in Charlie and Magbanua’s trials that they believe she was involved. Tensions appear to be high between Wendi and Donna. In recorded phone calls between Donna and her son in the days following Charlie’s conviction, Donna read aloud text exchanges between herself and Wendi that discussed Charlie’s verdict.

Donna Adelson appears in court after her arrest trying to board a flight to Vietnam via Dubai. Courtroom feed

After telling Wendi that she, Donna, “didn’t have the heart” to tell Charlie his sister had not reached out to Donna and Harvey following his conviction, Donna continued that “everyone looks to protect you. I bet you’ve got a lot to think about.” The reply from Wendi, an attorney herself, was lawyerly and cold. 

“Dear mom, I know you were upset by the verdict, but the anger directed at me is not justified,” she texted back, according her mother’s recounting to Charlie in the recorded phone call. “I’m not responsible in any way for Charlie’s situation. I am not guilty because I did not do anything wrong and I was not involved in any way with Danny’s death.” 

After explaining that her mother would need to go through her lawyers should she wish to discuss the case further, Wendi texted the following: “Right now, I have to be singularly focused on taking care of the boys during this difficult time.”

After moving to Miami Beach in the aftermath of her ex-husband’s death, Wendi changed her young sons’ last name to Adelson. She did so, she told the court, to protect them from unwanted publicity.


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