Charlie Adelson trial recap: An ‘absurd’ defense
Charlie Adelson’s trial wraps up with a questionable narrative.

The jurors of Leon County are surely smart and intuitive enough to see through this.

I sat down to write a serious recap of what’s happened since Charlie Adelson’s trial for the murder of Dan Markel began on Oct. 23.

But one can’t write seriously about a defense story that on its face is so beyond absurd that Shift+F7 on the word “absurd” even fails to produce a synonym that captures its irrationality.

So instead, I’ll provide readers a plain language recap of how Charlie has tried to talk his way out of mountains of evidence that places him, his mother Donna Adelson, and his sister Wendi Adelson at the center of an alleged 7-person conspiracy to kill his brother-in-law.

First, a few things everyone can agree on: Wendi and Donna were devastated that the court wouldn’t let Wendi relocate to South Florida with their sons, away from Markel. Wendi complained constantly about living in Tallahassee, so the family came up with a few (mostly abhorrent) ideas for how they could make it happen. One of these ideas was giving Markel $1 million, split three equal ways, between Charlie, Wendi, and their parents.

Here’s where Charlie’s story begins to diverge from reality.

He says he “talked too freely” in front of his then-“girlfriend” (in quotation marks because they were never exclusive, and she kept up her relationship with the father of her two children, gangster Sigfredo Garcia) — both about the family’s hatred of Markel and the $333,000 he would have given Wendi to help pay Markel off. From there, he says, Katherine “Katie” Magbanua and Garcia cooked the idea, behind Charlie’s back, to drive (twice!) to Tallahassee to kill Markel, and then extort Charlie for the $333k.

In Charlie’s story, he coughed up $138,000 in stapled cash (also moldy, per Katie, because someone had literally washed it), the night of the murder, and then got the Latin Kings to agree to have him pay off the remaining balance in $3,0000-per-month increments.

If he didn’t pay up, he said, gang members would kill him or a member of his family.

Despite having an extremely litigious history in which he willingly went to law enforcement, and despite having deep legal and political connections through a local judge and former state Senator as his sister’s Godfather, Charlie kept his mouth shut — until testifying publicly last week.

He didn’t talk to the FBI when they approached him, didn’t talk after the FBI bumped his mother, didn’t talk after Katie and the two gang members got arrested and convicted, didn’t talk even as his baby sister was named as a co-conspirator in the murder, and didn’t even talk after his own arrest.

The jurors of Leon County are surely smart and intuitive enough to see through this. Stay tuned Monday for how quickly they do …


Florida Politics provides ongoing coverage of the Markel murder case, which is drawing international media attention to Florida’s capital city. Our reporting draws from sources including contributor Karen Cyphers of Sachs Media, who, with attorney Jason Solomon, advocates with the grassroots group “Justice for Dan” to draw attention to the case and provide analysis relevant to Florida’s political, advocacy and legal communities.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


  • Daniel Gould

    November 6, 2023 at 8:08 am

    I really hope you are right. But I have a tiny fear that the cross on Friday was not as effective as it should have been and that he was never really rattled. Final arguments may be crucial to avoid a hung jury.

    I couldn’t watch all of the cross but I did see Charlie adamant that “TV” was not code for the murder. She must have asked him why his mother said “this TV will cost $5000” after the bump. Right?

  • It’s Complicated

    November 6, 2023 at 11:16 am

    Cappleman’s closing arguments have been effective, IMHO. Seeing Adelson sitting there listening to her go through the incriminating evidence with an “I’m such a dumbass for being so reckless” look on his face – as opposed to, “I’m a good and decent person, unjustly charge with this crime,” helps the state’s case. A smarmy defendant is never helpful to the defense.

    • Daniel Gould

      November 6, 2023 at 2:54 pm

      He definitely doesn’t have much of a poker face while evidence is presented but I hate to admit he was effective or prosecution wasn’t very effective during the cross. Hopefully that comes across as smarmy arrogance to the jury.

  • Andy

    November 7, 2023 at 7:27 am

    There was zero doubt he was guilty. Hopefully the mom is next.

    • It’s Complicated

      November 7, 2023 at 7:42 am

      If the jury convicts Charlie, it’s a safe bet the Leon County Grand Jury will be presented a case for indictment against the “unindicted co-conspirators,” Donna and Wendi, in the coming months.

      • It's Complicated

        November 7, 2023 at 10:01 am

        Didn’t realize that when I posted this the jury had already delivered three “guilty” verdicts (yesterday). Cappleman says, “Stay tuned,” re future indictments.

      • conservative professor

        November 8, 2023 at 9:10 pm

        Why is a grand jury required? A grand jury can compel testimony and provide cover for a prosecutor. I do not see either advantages as useful for the indictments.
        Wendi and Donna now must live every moment in fear of indictment. I am not sure about the father. How has he remained above suspicion?

  • conservative professor

    November 8, 2023 at 9:07 pm

    The defense case was absurd, but I have seen more absurd defenses achieve success. Of course, the OJ Simpson defense of police corruption was absurd but the trial had strong racial overtones. The trial lasted 9 to 10 months with jury sequestration. Casey Anthony had an absurd defense. Katherine Magbanua had an absurd defense which gave her a mistrial. The defense concocted by Charlie was unique. I think his sister’s testimony was a fatal blow to his slim chance. Even without her testimony, I think that he would have been convicted.
    I do not see future indictments until after the sentencing. I see a possibility that Charlie will turn against his sister and mother. Even if he does not turn against them, I see indictments coming. The prosecution will put its base case for convictions. I see a reasonably strong case against Donna and a good circumstantial case against Wendi. The arrogance and evilness of the family is beyond comprehension.

Comments are closed.


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