Criminal Justice

Restaurant recording allowed in dentist's trial for allegedly ordering murder of law prof Dan Markel

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AP Charlie Adelson mugshot

A Florida judge ruled Monday that prosecutors can use a secret recording in the trial of dentist Charlie Adelson, who was accused of ordering the hit that killed a Florida State University College of Law professor in 2014. Photo from the Broward County, Florida, sheriff’s office via the Associated Press.

A judge in Leon County, Florida, ruled Monday that prosecutors can use a secret recording in the trial of a dentist accused of ordering the hit that killed Florida State University College of Law professor Dan Markel in July 2014.

Judge Stephen Everett of Florida’s 2nd Judicial Circuit allowed the recording but not the transcript in dentist Charlie Adelson’s murder trial, which is scheduled to begin Oct. 23, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. At the time of his death, Markel was recently divorced from Adelson’s sister, Wendi Adelson, who was director of FSU’s Public Interest Law Center.

The 2016 recording was made at the Dolce Vita restaurant in Miami, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. (Past coverage identified the restaurant as the Dulce Vida.) The speakers on the tape are Charlie Adelson and Katherine Magbanua, who is the alleged link between Adelson and the convicted hit man. Magbanua was romantically involved with both men.

Magbanua was convicted in May 2022 after the same recording was played during her trial.

The recording was made after an undercover FBI agent posing as a blackmailer approached the mother of Charlie and Wendi Adelson. The blackmailer used the hit man’s nickname and asked the mother to take care of another alleged accomplice.

On the recording, Charlie Adelson said the person who approached his mother was either a blackmailer or a cop. He suggested making a “charity” payment to the blackmailer.

Charlie Adelson also said on the recording, “If they had any evidence, we would have already gone to the airport.”

A Miami lawyer representing Adelson, Daniel Rashbaum, argued unsuccessfully at the hearing Monday that the recording should be excluded from the trial because many of Magbanua’s comments cannot be heard.

The defense also argued that the comment about going to the airport should be excluded because it came “out of the blue” at the beginning of the enhanced recording, according to a defense motion published by Florida Politics.

The prior part of the recording, about 30 minutes’ worth, could not be enhanced by the state’s vendor or the FBI, and there was no context, the defense argued.

Everett allowed the comment, along with the recording.

Everett also allowed prosecutors to introduce filings in the divorce to show motive. The defense said there is no evidence that Charlie Adelson knew of Markel’s statements in the divorce filings, so they do not show motive.

The Adelson family has denied involvement in Markel’s murder.

See also:

“Was there a go-between in the murder of law prof Dan Markel? Defense offers alternative theory”

“What is in the audio that led prosecutors to charge dentist in law prof’s murder?”

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