The ongoing saga of the case of murdered Florida State law professor Dan Markel moves into the spotlight again this week when Dateline NBC airs a new segment on the case this Thursday at 9 p.m.
A live discussion will be hosted on the ‘Justice for Dan’ Facebook page while the segment airs.
Markel was shot in July 2014 following a bitter divorce from his ex-wife, Wendi Adelson. Prosecutors contend that members of Adelson’s family, including Wendi’s mother Donna and brother Charlie, hired hit men to murder Markel so Wendi could have full custody of their two sons and relocate to South Florida as she wished.
Prior to Markel’s murder, Adelson had asked the courts for permission to move away from Tallahassee with the children, but the courts repeatedly sided with Markel in saying this could not happen.
No members of the Adelson family have been arrested yet, but the three people they allegedly hired have been. One confessed, one was convicted and sentenced to life, and the third faces retrial next year.
Dateline has been following this case, including producing a prior segment titled “Cold Blooded.” Since its airing, a number of things have happened, some of which may be discussed in this upcoming program:
— Trial of accomplices: Nearly one year ago, in October 2019, hit man Sigfredo Garcia and accomplice Katherine Magbanua were tried for Markel’s murder. Garcia was convicted and sentenced to life, while Magbanua had a mistrial and faces retrial in the coming year. This trial revealed a number of incriminating facts tying the Adelson family to the murder, including the testimony of accomplice Luis Rivera, who confessed to his role and identified who had hired him and his friends to carry out the murder.
— ‘Grandparent Bill’ filed in Florida: A bill was introduced in the Florida Legislature aiming to provide grandparents with greater access to courts to petition for visitation with grandchildren in extraordinary cases such as those facing Markel’s parents, who were cut off by Wendi Adelson from having contact with their grandchildren after the first set of arrests in 2016. The bill was filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes and approved unanimously by Sen. Lauren Book’s Children & Families Committee. Florida law does not currently permit grandparents to petition courts, even in terrible circumstances such as these. The bill will be introduced again this coming session, with lobbyists Jeff Johnston and Amanda Stewart continuing their work to pass this legislation into law.
— Grandparent Petition: Justice for Dan initiated a public petition urging Wendi Adelson to permit contact between Markel’s parents and their grandsons. Even though the petition has garnered hundreds of signatures from around the world, Adelson has continued to refuse the grandparents access to the boys.
— Petition for Arrests: On the 6th anniversary of Markel’s murder, Justice for Dan initiated a second public petition, this time urging the State Attorney to bring charges against Charlie and Donna Adelson based on information provided during trial and in the probable cause affidavits released by law enforcement implicating their involvement. This petition garnered more than 1,200 signatures, both locally and around the world.
— Charlie Adelson’s former attorney runs for office: Charlie Adelson’s former attorney and longtime friend, Michael Weinstein, ran for the Florida House of Representatives in the summer of 2020. Weinstein represented Charlie in 2016 when the accomplices were arrested and vouched for his groomsman’s innocence and good character in television interviews. Weinstein’s father, a former powerful state Senator and chief judge in Broward County, is Wendi’s godfather. Questions about this murder case arose during Weinstein’s unsuccessful campaign for the Legislature.
— Magbanua files motion for pretrial release: Katherine Magbanua’s lawyers filed a motion asking newly assigned judge Robert Wheeler to let their client out on bail. They had made this request previously but were denied due to severity of the charges and the weight of the evidence against Magbanua. Case observers note the likelihood that if she is released from jail, Magbanua’s life could be endangered or she could be a flight risk. Prosecutors are expected to release their response to this motion Friday, one day after the Dateline segment airs.
The new Dateline segment — whatever content it highlights — will surely illuminate the high level of interest and advocacy for justice in this case, in Florida and beyond.