‘I’m Not Responsible for Charlie’s Situation:’ Ex-Wife of Murdered Professor Coldly Dismisses Frantic Mom After Dentist Brother’s Murder Conviction: Jailhouse Tapes

During one the calls, Donna Adelson was recorded making incriminating comments after Charlie had been disconnected, and she may have thought she was no longer being recorded.

Courtroom Feed
Wendi Adelson, ex-wife of murdered law professor Dan Markel, sent her mother a lawyerly text message after her brother was convicted of Markel's murder, recorded jailhouse calls reveal. Courtroom Feed

Wendi Adelson, whose ex-husband Dan Markel was murdered during an ugly custody dispute, coldly dismissed her mother in an icy text exchange last month in the immediate hours after her brother, Charlie, was convicted of hiring Latin Kings hitmen to kill Markel, according to Florida jailhouse tapes.

The tapes are from 35 hours of phone calls Charlie made from the Leon County Jail to his mother, Donna Adelson, 73, in the days following his conviction, during which she discussed suicide and plans to flee the country. After listening to those calls, prosecutors accelerated their plans to charge Donna with Markel’s murder. She was arrested at Miami International Airport on November 13 while boarding a flight to Vietnam via the United Arab Emirates. Neither country has an extradition treaty with the U.S., something Donna mentioned in the recorded phone calls.

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

During her phone calls with Charlie, Donna read Charlie a text exchange she had with her daughter, Wendi, in the hours after Charlie’s conviction. After texting Wendi that Charlie had been asking how his sister was “holding up,” Donna said she wrote to Wendi, “I didn’t have the heart to tell him that you never called us… Everyone looks to protect you. I bet you’ve got a lot to think about.”

In reply, Wendi, a lawyer, texted back, “Dear mom, I know you were upset by the verdict, but the anger directed at me is not justified. 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.” She then told her mother to talk to her lawyers if she wished to discuss the case before adding that she needs to be “singularly focused on taking care of the boys during this difficult time.”

Donna Adelson (left) has been charged with conspiring with her son Charlie (center) to order the contract killing of her ex-son-in-law, Professor Dan Markel (right). Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation/Courtroom Feed

Donna‘s response went as follows: “We are your parents. We are and have always been there for you and the boys. None of what we wrote matters about the case. That’s over. I just want you to know how many times Charlie is asking about you.”

Donna, who is now behind bars herself, is the fifth person charged with Markel’s contract murder. Markel, a celebrated law professor at Florida State with two Harvard degrees, was gunned down outside his modest home in Tallahassee in 2014 while he was in a custody dispute with Wendi, who hated Tallahassee and wanted to move with her and Markel’s two children to Miami, to be closer to her family. Not only was Markel refusing to let her move, he had also sought a protective order requiring Donna to have supervised visits only with her grandchildren. Prosecutors say this feud was the motive for his murder.

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

Markel was shot in his driveway by a Latin Kings gang leader, Luis Rivera, and his friend, Sigfredo Garcia. Prosecutors allege that Rivera and Garcia were contracted for the murder by Charlie, who was dating Rivera’s common-law wife, Katie Magbanua, who served as a liaison between the wealthy Adelsons, who own a thriving Miami dental practice, and the Latin Kings. 

Rivera, Garcia and Magbanua have all been convicted and sentenced to prison. Charlie was found guilty last month and sentenced to life in prison. Within days, Donna had been arrested. During the various trials, prosecutors have indicated they believe Wendi and her father, Harvey, were also involved in the conspiracy, but they have yet to charge them.

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

The day after Charlie was found guilty, Donna spent 25 minutes on the phone talking about everything from suicide, to non-extradition countries, to Charlie’s mental state, before turning to the lawyerly text messages from Wendi. But some of her remarks were made after Charlie had become disconnected from the recorded call, and Donna, who appears to have thought the phone call had ended, talked with someone else, presumably Harvey, while the tape kept rolling. 

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

“Am I suicidal?” Donna can be heard asking, according to copies of recordings obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat. “No. Do I want to go to sleep and not see my son? I do. Perfectly honest, I do. We could do it together. Leave a note. They’ll know when to come get us. And we’ll do it together.”

The call  was one of 86 calls Charlie made to his mother from jail between the time of his guilty verdict and his mother being arrested on the same charges a week later. The calls added up to more than 35 hours of conversations and led to Donna’s interception at Miami’s airport.

Charlie has since been transferred to the custody of the Florida Department of Corrections from the Leon County Detention Facility.

“It is satisfying to see justice being done,” Mr. Markel’s father, Phil, said after Charlie’s sentencing. “The wheels of justice turn very, very slowly, but right now we’re grateful that they’re still turning. Thank you. Today is a good day.”

In her first in-court appearance on Monday, Donna pleaded not guilty to her charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy, and solicitation. Her next court appearance is set for Jan. 9. Her lawyers have claimed she is in declining health and is being treated cruelly in jail.

The New York Sun

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