TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Court TV) — A jury has been seated in the Dentist Mastermind Murder Trial and opening statements are expected to begin tomorrow. Dentist Charlie Adelson is accused of hiring hitmen to kill Florida State University law professor Dan Markel, but Adelson is the third and final defendant to be tried for Markel’s murder.
The tragic case involves hitmen, in-laws, brothers, sisters, girlfriends, husbands and wives, among others. Frankly, it’s hard to keep track of who’s who, so here’s a quick primer:
DAN MARKEL: THE VICTIM
Originally from Toronto, Canada, Dan Markel received both his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University. Markel went on to become a world-renowned professor of criminal law at Florida State University before his life was cut short at the age of 41. Markel, a father to two young children, was gunned down in his Tallahassee driveway on July 19, 2014.
CHARLIE ADELSON: THE DEFENDANT
A dentist formerly based in South Florida, Charlie Adelson is the older brother of Wendi Adelson and the ex-brother-in-law of Dan Markel. Adelson is charged with capital murder in the death of Markel, accused of hiring hitmen to kill him. If convicted, Adelson faces life in prison without parole.
KATHERINE MAGBANUA: CHARLIE ADELSON’S EX-GIRLFRIEND WHO ORCHESTRATED THE HIT ON DAN MARKEL
Charlie Adelson’s girlfriend at the time of Dan Markel’s murder, Katherine Magbanua was convicted of the murder of Dan Markel. She did not pull the trigger, but orchestrated the alleged murder-for-hire plot, recruiting Sigfredo “Tuto” Garcia (her ex-boyfriend and the father of her children) and Luis “Tato” Rivera to pull off the hit. Magbanua received a life sentence in 2022 (her 2019 case ended in a mistrial). Magbanua is reportedly cooperating with the state and is set to be one of their star witnesses.
SIGFREDO “TUTO” GARCIA: HIRED HITMAN
In 2019, a jury found Sigfredo “Tuto” Garcia guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy of first-degree murder in the 2014 death of Dan Markel. Garcia, who fired the shots that killed Markel, was found not guilty of solicitation of first-degree murder. Garcia is now serving a life sentence.
LUIS “TATO” RIVERA: HIRED HITMAN
A childhood friend of Sigfredo Garcia, Rivera is the other hitman recruited by Katherine Magbanua. Rivera and Garcia traveled from Miami to Tallahassee in a rented Toyota Prius to kill Markel. The case against the two hitmen was solidified by evidence including cell phone records, surveillance video, bank records, and toll booth data.
WENDI ADELSON: DAN MARKEL’S EX-WIFE, CHARLIE ADELSON’S SISTER
Wendi Adelson is Dan Markel’s ex-wife and Charlie Adelson’s sister. Wendi and Dan Markel got married in 2006 and had two boys. Wendi filed for divorce in 2012, their union was dissolved the following year, and a bitter custody battle ensued. According to prosecutors, Wendi wanted to relocate to South Florida with the kids in order to be near her family after the divorce but was court-ordered to keep the children near their father. Wendi is a former clinical professor at Florida State University School of Law’s public interest center. She currently lives in South Florida with her two sons. Wendi, who testified in both Katherine Magbanua’s trial and retrial, has not been charged in Markel’s murder and has denied any involvement.