Florida Dentist Found Guilty of Murder.

Florida Dentist Found Guilty of Murder.

The trial of Florida dentist Charles Adelson has now concluded, with him being found guilty of a murder that took place in 2014.  The Fort Lauderdale periodontist was convicted on three charges: first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation to commit murder.

The jury determined that Charles Adelson arranged to have Daniel Markel killed. Markel, a well known Florida State University law professor, was his former brother-in-law. He had been involved in what was described as a bitter custody fight, with Adelson’s sister. Daniel and Wendi Markel had divorced and were granted shared custody of their two children. Wendi then wanted to move from Tallahassee to South Florida to be closer to her family. A judge ruled that Wendi couldn’t move the children from Tallahassee, and Dan Markel refused to move to South Florida.

Markel, 41, was shot and killed on July 18, 2014, while he was talking on the phone in his car at his Tallahassee home. In court, Adelson had claimed that although he paid the killers after Markel’s shooting, he did so only because he was being threatened.

The link between Adelson and the killers was his ex-girlfriend, Katherine Magbanua. The prosecution contended that that Adelson paid to have the professor killed. Magbanua had hired Sigfredo Garcia, the father of her two children, to commit the murder assisted by his childhood friend, Luis Rivera. Magbanua and Garcia were convicted of first-degree murder and Rivera is serving a 19-year sentence after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for testifying against Garcia and Magbanua.

Adelson had said that, before the killing, his family offered Markel $1 million to move to South Florida so the children could be near their mother. Adelson said he offered to pay one-third of the cost. He told Magbanua details of the proposal and the contentious custody battle, and she later told Garcia.

Adelson had claimed as his defence that he was a victim of extortion by the killers, and not involved in the plot to kill the prominent Florida State University professor. “They think it was murder-for-hire. It was an extortion,” Adelson said. According to his testimony, he had told Magbanua, who he was in a relationship with at the time, details of the contentious custody battle including the families offer to pay Markel the $1 million. Magbanua had asked him if he would need to borrow the money to pay his share, and he had said that he could just write a cheque. He also told her that he had bought his sister a $5,000 television when she was going through the custody battle, and joked it was cheaper than hiring a hitman. He had repeated the joke many times before Markel was killed more than a year later, but said it was only a bad joke and he had never sought to hire a hitman.

According to Adelson, when Magbanua told Adelson her friend had killed Markel, she said it was because she shared details of the custody battle and the $1 million payment offer. “She said, ‘Listen, this is all my fault. I had no idea that anything was going to happen. It was totally my fault,’” Adelson claimed. Adelson said he went to his safe and gave her $138,000 in cash and told her that he could pay the killers $3,000 a month after that. He said he didn’t go to the police because he was afraid Garcia would kill him.

In response, Prosecutor Georgia Cappleman said nobody had put a gun to Adelson’s head when he gave Magbanua the $138,000 in cash and arranged “some kind of layaway plan” for the rest of the payment. She noted that Adelson spent the night with Magbanua before she left with the money the next day, and that even after they broke up he continued to give her expensive gifts, put her on his family’s dentistry payroll and gave her the $3,000 a month to pass on to the murderers.

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