Charlie Adelson trashes ‘inbred’ jurors in jail calls to his mom

Posted at 4:28 PM, December 14, 2023 and last updated 8:59 PM, December 14, 2023

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Court TV) — In a series of recorded jailhouse phone calls obtained by Court TV, Charlie Adelson and his mother talk about his case — particularly their distaste for the jury — and the future.

Charlie Adelson was sentenced on Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for arranging the murder of his former brother-in-law, FSU professor Dan Markel. Days after Charlie’s conviction, his mother, Donna, was arrested on the jetway at Miami International Airport, where she was about to board a flight to Vietnam via Dubai.

Charlie Adelson mugshot

Charlie Adelson appears with a shaved head in a booking photo from Dec. 2023. (Florida Dept. of Corrections)

Documents linked to Donna’s arrest revealed that in the days between Charlie’s conviction, Nov. 6, and her arrest, Nov. 13, the mother and son talked for a whopping 35 hours on the phone. Prosecutors said at the time of Donna’s arrest that during some of those calls, she talked about making plans to leave the country.

In the calls obtained by Court TV, Donna can clearly be heard making arrangements for the future, referencing one of her grandsons.

Donna: “I have to talk, when we have a moment, about things that we need to take care of, ok?”
Charlie: “Yeah – money and stuff like that, I got you.”
Donna: Things I need to take care of for [grandchild] and, you know, ways that we can take care of him and help him, so there’s that. That’s the most important. And then, just figuring out about the dogs. (Sobbing) I’ve got to take care of things, Charlie.”

Many of the calls are devoted to Charlie’s analysis of the case, congratulating himself on what he thought was a job well done when he testified in his own defense. Charlie told his mother that his attorney told him, “If I were to give you a score, I think you’d get a 95,” and that “you came across fantastic.” In the hours before closing arguments and the verdict, Charlie said that he fully believed he would be walking out of the courthouse.

“And I was literally – I was on cloud 9 over the weekend. I was like, I’m going to see my son, I’m going to get out. … I can’t wait to be on my boat, I can’t wait to see my son, I can’t decide what restaurant I wanted to go to.”

Charlie said that he had given away his food, socks, and long-sleeved shirts to friends he had made behind bars before the verdict came in.

Donna Adelson reacts to statements made about her treatment at the Leon County Jail by LSCO Chief Norman Mack during a motion hearing on Monday, Dec. 11, 2023. (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat/Pool)

Both Charlie and Donna pointed to failures with the jury makeup as part of the reason behind his conviction, noting that their friends had all predicted Charlie’s acquittal.

Donna: “This is from intelligent people, that’s my problem.”
Charlie: “That’s the catch. That’s a jury of my peers. The jury of my peers was not there.”

Prosecutors had aimed to portray Charlie and his family, from South Florida, as looking down on Tallahassee and Leon County, where the victim was living and the trial was held. Describing the jury, Charlie said that the grouping was sympathetic to the prosecutor’s portrayal: “There was five black women on the jury. One black guy that was a sergeant … one kind of redneck looking a little bit … then three guys that looked like they were inbred that were like out of shape, 30 years old, look like they’ve never had a girl in their life.”

Charlie told his parents that after his conviction, he was held in a suicide cell “with blood on the walls and (expletive) on the ceiling. Literally — feces all over the place.”

Describing his current situation as “worse than getting cancer,” Charlie reflected on his past life: “I made a ton of money … I lived a very low-key lifestyle. I really did. … I didn’t really spend money on things. The one thing I treated myself with was when I bought that Ferrari. … Outside of that, I bought a boat for $8,000…I never treated myself.”

Donna has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder — the same charges on which her son was convicted.