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NEW VIDEO: Jury reviews Adelson texts, phone calls in fourth day of testimony

TPD Sargent Chris Corbitt
Posted at 8:55 AM, Oct 31, 2023

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — ABC 27's Kendall Brandt is in the courtroom for opening statements and witness testimony 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.

Click here for our coverage from when Adelson was arrested last year.

UPDATE 10/31/2023 4:45 P.M.

Court wrapped up with testimony from FBI Special Agent Pat Sanford.

He said his agency tapped thousands of calls made by Charlie Adelson in 2016.

Some of those played out in front of the jury Tuesday.

One of those calls included a conversation between Adelson and his mother, Donna after she was confronted by an undercover FBI agent.

The agent was posing as a blackmailer trying to extort money out of the family.

"Who does she say the matter involves?" Prosecutor Georgia Cappleman asked.

"The two of us," Sandford said.

"You mean herself and Charlie?" Cappleman asked.

"Yes," Sanford said.

Prosecutors also showed a conversation between Adelson and one of the convicted murderers at the Dolce Vita restaurant in Miami caught on camera by undercover FBI agents in 2016.

At the time of the recording, the audio was not clear.

In 2022, the state had an outside contractor clarify the recording to hear parts of the conversation.

The recording reveals Adelson speaking about his phones being tapped, being involved in something and not speaking with law enforcement or others.

He also suggested that they kill an undercover FBI agent that was posing as someone trying to blackmail the Adelson family.

UPDATE 10/31/2023 3:12 P.M.

FBI Special Agent Pat Sanford took the stand for the second time in this trial.

Assistant state attorney Georgia Cappleman asked Sanford if Markel's parents had "...unfettered access..." to their grandchildren via the Adelson family. This was in reference to testimony Wendi Adelson gave Thursday.

Sanford said that was not the case.

Cappleman then moved on to ask Sanford about phone calls between Adelson and his parents.

The prosecutor then played some of these calls.

One phone call detailed Wendi's dating life. Another one focused on Wendi being "lucky" in her life situation in 2016.

UPDATE 10/31/2023 2:18 P.M.

FBI Special Agent Brian Kendall took the stand. He worked to surveil Adelson via phone and in-person in 2016.

He went to the Monsuri Sushi Bar in Miami to record a conversation between Adelson and his father, Harvey.

UPDATE 10/31/2023 1:40 P.M.

Keith McElveen was called to the stand. He is a forensic engineer.

McElveen is tasked with extracting information and sound out of video and audio recordings.

He analyzed the two recordings taken capturing the conversation at Dolce Vita between Adelson and Magbanua.

UPDATE 10/31/2023 12:07 A.M.

A second FBI special agent took the stand to talk about his role in looking into the Adelson family in 2016.

The agent said he was involved with monitoring conversation between people of interest and undercover agents.

He said he went into Dolce Vita, a pizza restaurant in Miami, when Adelson was meeting with Magbanua. The agent said he brought recording equipment with him and sat near Adelson to capture the conversation.

He said the air conditioner seemed to interfere with the recording picked up in Dolce Vita. He said another agent also recorded in the restaurant. This agent testified his recording was more clear than the other.

UPDATE 10/31/2023 11:50 A.M.

An undercover agent with the FBI took the stand today to speak about his operations in the investigation into Charlie Adelson.

The agent, who is still working in an undercover capacity, approached Donna Adelson, Charlie's mother, outside of her South Beach condo in 2016.

The agent said he handed her a piece of paper with a news article about Markel, as well as a phone number and dollar amount written on it.

He testified that he acted as a member of the Latin Kings gang. Rivera, one of the people involved in the murder of Markel, was a member of this gang. The agent posed as an associate of Rivera's.

UPDATE 10/31/2023 11:11 A.M.

The prosecution is now asking Corbitt questions again after the defense got the chance to press the TPD Sargent.

Assistant state attorney Sarah Dugan asked Corbitt about divorce papers.

She said there were "...significant events..." in the divorce on May 2 and 7 of 2014. Dugan asked if those could have been days where the hit was discussed.

UPDATE 10/31/2023 10:24 A.M.

Defense attorney Dan Rashbaum took to the lecturn to cross-examine TPD Sargent Chris Corbitt.

Rashbaum questioned Corbitt as to if he had all of the text messages from Adelson's iCloud. He claims to have texts that the investigation did not turn up.

Rashbaum asked Corbitt if Adelson made a lot of calls in the evening and morning.

"He made a lot of calls at all times of the day," Corbitt said. He did clarify that most of the calls were in the morning and evening. Rashbaum said this is when Adelson is driving to and from work.

Rashbaum noted that Markel had custody of his children the day of the murder. Corbitt said that was discussed in texts between Markel and Wendi Adelson earlier in the month.

The defense attorney also pointed out some discrepancies in the text messages shown to the jury in a PowerPoint versus the texts in the paper records. Corbitt said it was a mistake.

Rashbaum continued to question Corbitt for the next hour about text and phone call patterns.

He brought up a piece of evidence Corbitt explained yesterday. It was a map showing the cell towers Wendi Adelson's phone was serviced by on the day of the murder. Corbitt said TPD's team used this to track Wendi's movements. Rashbaum asked if this meant she was in that exact location. Corbitt said no. He said this simply means her phone was serviced by the tower.