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Magbanua Trial Day 2: Wendi Adelson talks about relationship between brother Charlie and Dan Markel

A woman with a dark suit sits on the witness stand, flipping through a folder
Chasity Maynard, Pool
Tallahassee Democrat
Wendi Adelson testifies in the trial of Katherine Magbanua, March 19, 2022.

Katherine Magbanua’s retrial resumed Thursday with testimony from Dan Markel’s ex-wife, Wendi Adelson. Magbanua is accused of being the go-between for the Adelson family and the hitmen who killed the FSU law professor.

Adelson told state prosecutors she wants the people who killed Markel held accountable, even if they’re her own family. Adelson was granted immunity for her testimony as her family members have long been implicated in Markel's murder. The two were involved in a custody fight at the time of his death.

Prosecutor Georgia Cappleman questioned Adelson today about her brother's relationship with Katherine Magbanua. Charlie Adelson was arrested last month after prosecutors revealed a newly enhanced, six-year-old audio recording of him and Magbanua in a Miami restaurant. He and Magbanua briefly dated, and Magbanua's ex is Sigfredo Garcia, the convicted shooter.

“Were you aware of your brother ever having any communications with the scary ex-husband [Sigfredo Garcia]?" asked Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman.

"No," responded Wendi Adelson, "only that my brother seemed a little scared of him. I don’t know if they talked or didn’t talk."

Cappleman followed up with, "So, it would be surprising to you to learn they have a relationship," to which Wendi responded,

Magbanua’s defense attorneys argue Charlie went behind Magbanua’s back and hired Garcia to kill Markel without her knowledge.

Magbanua's defense attorney, Chris DeCoste, also questioned Wendi Adelson about her brother, noting Charlie Adelson worked hard by day as a dentist and played hard at night with various girlfriends and expensive vehicles. A conversation between Wendi and Charlie also re-emerged: the retelling of the moment Charlie made a joke about buying her a TV because "it was cheaper than a hitman." Wendi has called that a "bad joke" that "wasn't very funny."

You understand that until you expose your brother, explain that he went behind everybody’s back and hired a hitman to murder your ex-husband, you’ll remain guilty in the eyes of the world," DeCoste said to Adelson.

"I can’t speak to the eyes of the World, I can only know I’ve done nothing wrong," she replied.

Wendi Adelson’s ex-boyfriend also testified. Jeffery Lacasse says he worried she and Charlie may have been trying to frame him, as he was out of town the day Markel was killed and recalled Wendi repeatedly asking about his plans for the trip at a time when their relationship was ending. A few days prior, Lacasse said, Wendi told him that Charlie had again raised the hitman scenario along with other ways to kill Markel. Lacasse said it was stated in a way that "made my stomach flip."

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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