FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The former brother-in-law of a Florida State University law professor who was shot to death at his Tallahassee home eight years ago has been arrested in South Florida in connection with his killing.
Charlie Adelson was arrested Thursday morning by U.S. marshals and booked into the main Broward County jail. He faces charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation to commit murder.
Tallahassee State Attorney Jack Campbell told WTXL that Adelson was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday. Campbell said new audio from a secret recording at a South Florida restaurant led to Adelson's indictment.
Adelson faces the same charges as Sigfredo Garcia, the gunman who drove from South Florida to Tallahassee and fatally shot Markel in July 2014.
Garcia's connection to the Adelsons and Markel has been well-documented in previous news accounts.
Garcia, who was found guilty of murdering Markel, fathered two children with Katherine Magbanua, who had been in a relationship with Adelson at the time of Markel's shooting.
Magbanua was on trial with Garcia in 2019. A jury convicted Garcia of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree, but jurors couldn't come to a unanimous decision on the fate of Magbanua and a mistrial was declared. Her retrial is scheduled to begin next month.
A Tallahassee Police Department affidavit said Markel's death was the result of the 2013 contentious divorce from Wendi Adelson, a lawyer who has since moved to South Florida.
Investigators linked Garcia and Luis Rivera to the crime after tracing a Toyota Prius that was seen on surveillance videos following Markel's car to his home. Cellphone records and other evidence established that Garcia and Rivera were in Tallahassee on the day that Markel was killed.
Rivera pleaded guilty for his role in the 2014 shooting and testified against Garcia and Magbanua in exchange for a lesser sentence.
Police said Garcia's cellphone was used to call Magbanua about 2,700 times between May 1 and July 19.
The Prius that was seen in the surveillance videos was rented by Rivera in North Miami, and the SunPass transponder in the car documented its trip — at the westbound Interstate 75 toll plaza in Broward County at 2:18 p.m. on July 16 and at the westbound I-75 toll plaza in Collier County at 5:23 p.m. on July 18, the affidavit said.
Markel had been involved in a bitter divorce with Wendi Adelson, who filed for divorce in 2012. Markel later learned that she and their two children had moved to her parents' home in Coral Springs.
In June 2013, a Leon County judge formally denied Wendi Adelson's motion for relocation with the children.
"Email evidence indicates Wendi's parents, especially her mother, wanted Wendi to coerce Markel into allowing the relocation to South Florida," the affidavit said.
Early in 2014, Markel sought to enforce the judge's ruling, claiming that his ex-mother-in-law "made disparaging remarks about him to his sons."
Markel asked the court to stop Wendi Adelson's mother from having unsupervised time with her grandchildren and to limit the amount of time she spent with them to prevent further disparaging remarks.
A hearing on the issue was postponed and hadn't been rescheduled when Markel was killed.
According to a criminal complaint filed after Magbanua's arrest in 2016, she started receiving paychecks from the Adelson Institute for Aesthetics & Implant Dentistry after Markel's death. The checks, each handwritten and signed by Wendi and Charlie Adelson's mother, Donna Adelson, in the amount of $407.58, started in September 2014 and continued through at least January 2016.
Investigators reviewed Magbanua's bank accounts and noticed "a significant increase in cash deposits" after Markel's death.
She was later charged with conspiracy and solicitation to commit first-degree murder.
"The Markel family is deeply grateful to the state attorney's office, the FBI and all members of law enforcement for their tireless pursuit of justice," Orin Snyder and Matt Benjamin, attorneys for the Markel family, said in a statement to WPTV. "Nearly eight years after Danny's tragic murder, these dedicated public servants continue to fight to honor Danny's memory and to hold accountable all those responsible for his horrific death. On behalf of Danny's family and friends in the Tallahassee community and all over the world, thank you."
During Garcia's trial, Wendi Adelson testified that she didn't believe her brother had been involved in Markel's murder. She said that her brother gave her a television as a divorce present and that he joked it had been cheaper than hiring a hit man.
"Charlie is innocent and the prosecutors have no new information that led to this arrest," David Oscar Markus and Margot Moss, attorneys for Charlie Adelson, said in a statement to WPTV. "The timing sure does stink, doesn't it? On the eve of a long-awaited trial of Katie, this move has the smell of desperation."