Prosecutor rejects cops’ case tying in-laws to murder of Florida professor


(JTA) — Florida’s state attorney has dismissed as “speculation” affidavits from Tallahassee police implicating the in-laws of slain law professor Dan Markel in his murder.

On Thursday, the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper obtained the affidavits, in which the Tallahassee Police Department lays out its case for why Markel’s ex-wife’s brother, Charlie Adelson, and her mother, Donna Adelson, should be considered prime suspects in his slaying.

Police say Charlie Adelson looked into hiring a hit man the summer before Markel was killed, in the midst of Markel’s bitter divorce from Wendi Adelson.

Two South Florida men with extensive criminal backgrounds have been charged with the murder of the popular legal scholar in the driveway of his home in July 2014, in what police say was a murder for hire.

State Attorney Willie Meggs said, however, that the speculative nature of the police evidence would make it difficult to secure a conviction or even proceed with a trial for Charlie Adelson and Katherine Magabanua, his former girlfriend. She is the mother of the children of one of the men charged in Markel’s murder.

“My opinion after reading those documents is there is no probable cause here to make an arrest,” Meggs told the Tallahassee Democrat. “We kind of believe they were involved according to the police. But what we believe and what we think doesn’t count. What evidence do we have?”

The police affidavit notes extensive contacts between the alleged co-conspirators on the morning Markel was killed, as well as paychecks, signed by Donna Adelson, that Magabanua began receiving after the killing.

Adelson’s family has denied any involvement in Markel’s slaying.

In a video released earlier this month, Markel’s ex-wife tells police that her brother had joked the morning of the crime of hiring a hit man to kill him.

The 41-year-old Markel, a popular professor at Florida State University, was a well-known criminal law scholar and had been published in The New York Times and The Atlantic.

The couple, both Jewish, had divorced shortly before the murder. Prior to the settlement, Markel had fought off Adelson’s attempt to move with their two young sons to South Florida for a new job and to be closer to her family, ABC reported.

The trial starts in November; the suspects are facing the death penalty if convicted.