FSU professor’s murder: Trial date set for Donna Adelson

A date has been set for the trial of Donna Adelson on murder charges.

The grandmother from South Florida is charged with the 2014 murder of FSU professor Dan Markel, who was the ex-husband of Adelson’s daughter Wendi.

On Monday, a judge ruled that the trial will begin on Sept. 30.

Back in November, 73-year-old Donna Adelson and her husband were about to board a flight to Vietnam at Miami International Airport when they were stopped by officers.

She was later placed in handcuffs and then booked into jail.

Adelson’s arrest came days after her son, Charlie Adelson, was convicted of orchestrating the murder-for-hire of Florida State University professor Dan Markel.

Prosecutors say Donna Adelson helped arrange the murder plot of Markel, who had previously been married to her daughter.

Her arrest in the fifth in the case.

On Nov. 6, a jury in Leon County convicted Charlie Adelson, a periodontist who lived in Fort Lauderdale, of charges related to hiring the hitmen who killed his former brother-in-law.

Records show investigators listened to Charlie Adelson’s jail calls, as Donna Adelson told him about “plans for a suicide” and “to flee to a non-extradition country” after creating trusts to make sure that her grandchildren were taken care of.

Prosecutors described Charlie Adelson, 47, as the mastermind of Markel’s murder. Katherine “Katie” Magbanua, who was his girlfriend at the time, testified to connecting him to Sigfredo “Tuto” Garcia and Luis “Tato” Rivera, the convicted hitmen from Miami-Dade.

Garcia is the father of Magbanua’s kids, and Rivera admitted he was a Latin King gang leader in northern Miami-Dade and a close friend of Garcia and Magbanua.

Markel was shot in the head twice on July 18, 2014, in his parked car, in Tallahassee. He was just outside of his home after dropping off his two sons at a daycare, and he died about 14 hours later in the hospital, according to the FBI.

Markel and his ex-wife, Wendi Adelson, an attorney who filed for divorce in 2012, were in a child custody dispute. Records show Markel had asked the court to limit his sons’ time with their grandmother Donna Adelson due to her alleged disparaging remarks.

Their disagreements included the boys’ place of residence. Markel, who was born in Canada and wanted to continue to work at FSU, wanted his sons to be near him in Tallahassee, and Wendi Adelson wanted them to be near her parents in Miami Beach.

Rivera admitted to buying the gun and renting the Toyota Prius that was used for the murder, records show. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for 19 years in prison in 2016 and testified against Garcia and Magbanua, who were convicted of first-degree murder, sentenced to life in prison, and are appealing their cases.

Records also show Wendi Adelson told detectives that a murder-for-hire plot was a possibility, and said that her brother “commented” that he had looked into hiring a hitman, but it was cheaper to buy her a television as a divorce gift. Her mother set an appointment for her TV repair on the day of the murder, according to investigators.

Donna Adelson is facing charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and solicitation to commit first-degree murder.

Wendi Adelson and her father, Harvey Adelson, have not been charged. Prosecutors said the investigation in the case was ongoing.

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