Jury deliberations underway in Charlie Adelson Murder trial

Posted at 9:02 AM, Nov 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-06 15:42:40-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — ABC 27's Kendall Brandt is in the courtroom for closing arguments in the trial of Charlie Adelson. He is accused of hiring hitmen to murder FSU Law professor Dan Markel in 2014 in his Betton Hills home during a custody dispute between Markel and Adelson's sister, Wendi. The state has also named Wendi and Donna Adelson, Charlie's mother, as un-indicted co-conspirator.

Click here for our coverage of Adelson's arrest last year.

UPDATE 11/6/2023 1:45 P.M.

After Cappleman gave her rebuttal, the jurors were read final instructions before going to the jury room to decide the fate of Charlie Adelson.

UPDATE 11/6/2023 1:42 P.M.

Rashbaum wrapped up his final words to the jurors before they decide Charlie Adelson's fate.

He told the jurors that they need to listen to their common sense to decide a verdict.

Prosecutor Georgia Cappleman then spoke to the jurors one last time to rebut the defense's argument.

Cappleman is arguing that the defense is trying to confuse the jurors. She reiterated that they can only not convict based on reasonable doubt.

She made points to clarify any evidence that was disputed by the defense. Those pieces included addressing the location of cell phone pings on towers, text messages made and conversations between the defendant and others on the phone.

Cappleman also cast doubt on why Adelson never talked to the police.

"Why not come forward when Katherine Magbanua was arrested?" Cappleman asked.

She said Adelson is a smart man who has had several years to think about his defense.

"Don't let the way the defendant thought he was going to get away with it let him get away with it," Cappleman said.

UPDATE 11/6/2023 12:36 P.M.

Defense attorney Dan Rashbaum faced the jurors to begin his closing argument.

He is making his final push for Charlie Adelson's innocence.

"Sometimes the simple answer is the wrong answer," Rashbaum said. "Sometimes things aren't so simple."

Rashbaum said the state's evidence does not quite line up. He brought up his several motions to bring emails and texts into evidence. The state objected to these many times.

"Ask yourself what they were afraid for you to see," Rashbaum said.

He said the payment method does not line up with hiring hitmen.

"If this was a murder for hire, why was payment not made before?" Rashbaum asked the jury.

He said there are too many missing pieces.

"Reasonable doubt," Rashbaum said.

The defense attorney moved on to talk about Katherine Magbanua's credibility. He pointed out that she lied during interviews with law enforcement and in her first two trials.

"They're going to have you base his freedom on this woman's word." Rashbaum said.

He said Adelson trusted Magbanua. This lead him to say that is why Adelson never called law enforcement or worried about anyone hurting him.

Rashbaum mentioned what he called a lack of questioning by the state about the tapped phone calls and the Dolce Vita conversation.

"The truth is that they have doubt," Rashbaum said. "That's why it took them six years after her (Magbanua's) arrest to even charge Charlie Adelson."

Next, the defense attorney turned his attention to the tapped phone calls.

Rashbaum said Adelson knew nothing when his mother first called him about what the defense calls the second extortion. He is referring to an incident where an undercover FBI agent approached Charlie's mother, Donna, on the street posing as a blackmailer.

He said Adelson admits his innocence several times in those tapped phone calls and the video from Dolce Vita.

"What he is saying is that they think I did a murder for hire, but I was extorted," Rashbaum said. "He didn't lie or flee, unlike Katherine Magbanua."

Rashbaum then moved on to speak about witnesses called by the state. He said he did not cross many of them because he did not dispute what they said about the murder.

"These people that killed him were animals. We agree that the police work was phenomenal," Rashbaum said. "That's why they caught the three people who did this."

UPDATE 11/6/2023 11:20 A.M.

Prosecutor Georgia Cappleman started her opening statement.

She kicked off by saying the defense can't poke holes in the evidence. Cappleman said things like texts with the murderers are a giveaway.

"This proves he was in cahoots with Katherine Magbanua," Cappleman said. "That stuff is undeniable, right?"

Adelson claims Magbanua and her friends, Luis Rivera and Sigfredo Garcia, killed Markel to threaten him out of one-third of a million dollars.

Cappleman said his story is far fetched.

"Why not just rob and murder him if they hate him?" Cappleman asked the jury.

The prosecutor then moved on to note that there is only one victim in this case.

"This is Dan Markel. He is the victim in this case. A brilliant lawyer, a funny guy," Cappleman said. "The only thing he was guilty of was fighting like hell."

She said paths lead to Adelson quickly during the investigation.

"The Adelson family is full of psychological warfare," Cappleman said. "When all else failed, they were willing to go even further to win."

The winning Cappleman is talking about: the Adelson family succeeding in relocating their daughter Wendi with Markel's kids.

"This situation was a pressure cooker and it was about to blow," Cappleman said.

Cappleman noted that Markel filed a motion to not allow Wendi's parents to see the children just a couple months before the murder.

"Whether or not that is a coincidence in timing is up to you to decide," Cappleman said.

The assistant state attorney said Donna Adelson, Charlie's mom, was "...in his ear..." about her daughter's divorce with Markel.

"Equal parts black sheep and mama's boy, she would try to help Wendi at his mother's footing," Cappleman said.

Cappleman continued to refresh the jurors on evidence presented in witness testimony.

"How many explanations can you string together before it is no longer reasonable?" Cappleman questioned.

She closed by telling the jurors that Adelson is not sufferring.

"This defendant is not a victim, he's a criminal," Cappleman said. "He is wealthy, he is smart, he is successful. He is a wealthy, smart, successful murderer."

UPDATE 11/6/2023 9:12 A.M.

The last step before jury deliberation in the trial of accused murderer Charlie Adelson began Monday morning just before 9 a.m.

Judge Stephen Everett read jurors their instructions for delibeartion. The 12 of the 15 jurors will decide the verdict after closing arguments.