Deadly dentist Charlie Adelson has been convicted of first-degree murder, solicitation and conspiracy in the targeted slaying of Toronto-born law professor Dan Markel.
The jury took just three hours of deliberations to seal the wealthy dentist’s fate following seven days of testimony.
He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Adelson, 47, is the latest to be convicted in the 2014 murder of the popular Florida State University professor.
Adelson’s former sexual playmate Katherine Magbanua, and hitmen Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera, are already serving long prison sentences for their roles in the shocking murder. Magbanua was the prosecution’s star witness in the hope her life sentence is reduced.
Prosecutors contended that Adelson paid to have Markel murdered because his sister, Wendi (the law professor’s ex-wife), had lost a bitter custody battle. She wanted to move to southern Florida with the couple’s two boys to be closer to her family.
Markel was opposed. Weeks later, he was shot and killed.
So far, a sentencing date has not been set.
In testimony last week, Adelson claimed he was the victim of extortion and had no role in the murder plot. While he admitted paying the hitters responsible for murdering his former brother-in-law, he testified it was because he was being blackmailed, Adelson told the Tallahassee court.
Closing arguments were made Monday morning.
For his part, Adelson testified that he knew Magbanua, her baby daddy and another gangster murdered Markel. He testified that he said nothing because he was in fear for his own life.
Adelson claimed that 48 hours after Markel was murdered, Magbanua demanded more than $300,000 — or he, too, would also be murdered.
“Do extortionists send a girlfriend of their victim to collect their extortion money? Is that the way it’s done?” prosecutor Georgia Cappleman asked, adding that Adelson continued having sex with Magbanua months after the murder.
Adelson said he believed his gal pal was protecting him from the real killers.
“I didn’t get killed, I didn’t get robbed. The extortion never went up. She was protecting me,” Adelson said.
Earlier, prosecutors argued Adelson was the mastermind and chief conspirator behind Markel’s murder.
“This murder was set into motion because, back in 2014, the defendant’s family — the Adelson family — had a big problem, and that big problem was Dan Markel. And the solution to that problem was this defendant,” prosecutor Sarah Dugan said of Adelson.
“This defendant was the solution to that problem because he had a girlfriend with connections to the type of people who were willing and capable of pointing a gun at a complete stranger and pulling the trigger.”
Magbanua admitted she was the conduit between Charlie and triggerman Sigfredo Garcia. She got involved for the money and as a favour to Adelson, she said.
She testified that the couple first talked about killing Markel, following a 2013 Halloween party.
“Do you know anybody that can harm someone?” Adelson asked, according to Magbanua.