Criminal Justice

Friends remember slain law prof; redacted report says he was killed in his garage

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Slain criminal-law professor Dan Markel was remembered by his friends as devoted to his children and his scholarship at Florida State University, where he joined the faculty in 2005.

Jeremy and Tracey Cohen moved to Markel’s neighborhood after meeting him at a holiday party in 2007 and becoming friends, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. Their children played together and the families shared dinners on Jewish holidays.

“He didn’t go in for a handshake,” Jeremy Cohen said. “He went in for a hug.”

Markel’s sons were ages 3 and 5, and he sought more time with them in litigation that continued after his divorce from the children’s mother, FSU clinical law professor Wendi Adelson, who wanted to move with the children to South Florida, the story says.

“His entire house was a shrine” to the children, Tracey Cohen told the newspaper. “The living room was really a playroom with a couch, and across the ceiling he had hung string so he could display the boy’s artwork for all to see.”

Markel had moved on after the divorce, and had a new relationship with a law professor at New York University. His former wife was “distraught, devastated, scared to death” after the shooting, her lawyer said. She is cooperating with police.

Police continue to hunt for the person responsible for the July 18 shooting that led to Markel’s death a day later. On Friday, a redacted police report revealed that Markel was shot in his garage and his keys were still in his car, according to previous coverage by the Tallahassee Democrat. He had been shot once in the head. A neighbor who heard a loud bang reported seeing a silver or white Prius, or a similar looking vehicle, leaving the area.

Police have said Markel appeared to be the intended victim and there is no indication his death was connected to a robbery or burglary.

Ohio State University law professor Douglas Berman noted that Markel’s death has been followed closely by legal academics. “Could this have been related to something that went wrong in the classroom or other professional interactions?” Berman asked in an interview with the newspaper. “Did somebody, in a big, horrible way, take something that he wrote the wrong way?”

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