By: GRACE WONG
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Court TV) — Charlie Adelson resumes direct examination Friday in another packed courtroom after telling jurors Thursday that he did not hire anyone to kill his brother-in-law but agreed to pay his murderers’ extortion demands to avoid being killed himself.
Adelson testified that on the night that Dan Markel was shot to death, his girlfriend Katherine “Katie” Magbanua came to his house distraught to tell him that her friend had killed Markel and wanted to be paid a third of a million dollars.
“She started telling me like I’m so sorry. This is this is all my fault, but I didn’t know any of this was going to happen,” said Adelson. “I’m not going to be part of this s***. Like I’m not going to be part of paying for a murder. This is insane and she’s like look, if you don’t pay in 48 hours, they will kill you.”
Adelson said Katie kept apologizing and was upset- he suspected Markel’s killer could be her ex, Sigfredo Garcia. The periodontist said he had an angry run-in with Garcia earlier in the month, where he cut him off on the road. Adelson said he learned that Garcia spied on him during a dinner date with Katie and even contemplated killing him. However, Katie would not reveal the identity of Dan’s killer or killers. Adelson testified he gave her all the cash he had in his safe, $138,000 and would work out a payment plan with the killers for 3k every month, 2k would be paid in cash and the rest would be paid through checks issued by Adelson Institute.
Adelson did not believe that Katie was part of the extortion plot because she did not appear to be benefiting from the blackmail payments. She was often broke and needed financial support, even her Old Navy credit card was declined.
“She was just apologizing just telling me that her friend’s crazy and she’s so sorry and she ran her mouth too much about everything and about the million-dollar offer,” he testified, referring to the million-dollar payment his family was prepared to make Markel relocate to South Florida, so his sister Wendi and her kids could be closer to their parents. He said he discussed his offer numerous times with Katie who allegedly shared it with dangerous connections who saw an opportunity to kill Markel and blackmail Adelson for it.
Prosecutors have ridiculed the defense’s theory in their own case-in-chief by presenting texts and calls between Adelson and Magbanua that show the couple being loving and affectionate even after they were no longer romantically involved. Adelson said he stayed friends with Magbanua after their break up because he did not believe she was part of the plot to extort him, but had been dragged into just as he had been.
Adelson said he had often wondered whether he should report the matter to law enforcement but decided against it because he feared being killed. The question came up repeatedly after the “bump,” when he feared his parents had become targets of another extortion plot concocted by police.
Defense Attorney Daniel Rashbaum took Adelson through many of the texts and calls presented by the government to explain what he was thinking at the time and to offer another explanation for many of the statements he made on the calls police captured through wiretaps.
Adelson denied talking in code to avoid incriminating himself on the calls but did admit he was being careful because he did not want to trigger an investigation fearing it would endanger his safety. He said police made assumptions based on the premise that it was a murder-for-hire when he was really being blackmailed.
“I never wanted anyone to know I was extorted,” Adelson said. “, I’d have to tell them what happened to me. And if I told him what happened to me, my life would be in danger. These people would come find me or someone in my family.”