Dan Markel

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Dan Markel
Dan Markel.jpg
Daniel Eric Markel

(1972-10-09)October 9, 1972
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
DiedJuly 19, 2014(2014-07-19) (aged 41)
Tallahassee, Florida, U.S.
Cause of deathGunshot wound
ResidenceTallahassee, Florida, U.S.
OccupationLaw professor, author
Spouse(s)Wendi Jill Adelson (2006-2013)

Daniel Eric Markel (October 9, 1972 – July 19, 2014) was an attorney and legal academic in the United States who wrote important works on retribution in criminal law and sentencing, with a focus on the role of punishment in the criminal justice system. A native of Toronto, Ontario, Canada,[1][2] he was murdered in Tallahassee, Florida, in 2014. Almost two years later, the first suspect was arrested in what police described as a murder for hire motivated by Markel's bitter divorce from Wendi Adelson, a clinical law professor and child advocate also employed at Florida State University.[3][4][5] To date, one of the suspects (Luis Rivera) has pled guilty to murder, one (Sigfredo Garcia) has been found guilty of first-degree murder and awaits sentencing, one (Katherine Magbanua) remains in jail after a mistrial awaiting retrial on murder charges, and two others (Charles Adelson and Donna Adelson) have been named by prosecutors as "unindicted conspirators."

Early life and education[edit]

Daniel Eric Markel[6] was born and raised in Toronto.[7][8]

He studied politics and philosophy as a Harvard undergraduate, graduating magna cum laude.[8][9] Markel completed graduate studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and earned a master's degree in political theory from Emmanuel College, Cambridge[6][10] before receiving his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2001.[9][11]

Legal career[edit]

Before entering teaching, Markel served as law clerk to Judge Michael Daly Hawkins of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit[12] and was an associate with the law firm Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel in Washington, D.C., practicing white-collar criminal defense.[13]

Markel joined the Florida State University College of Law in 2005;[13] he was tenured in 2010.[11] Markel held the post of D'Alemberte Professor of Law at the FSU College of Law.[8]


Markel co-authored a book exploring the intersection between crime, punishment and family, Privilege or Punish: Criminal Justice and the Challenge of Family Ties (2009).[8][14]

Markel was a co-founder of a blog for law professors, PrawfsBlawg.[8] His law review articles included an argument for the abolition of the death penalty published in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review,[15] a critique of the use of shaming as punishment published in the Vanderbilt Law Review,[16] and a paper on punitive damages published in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.[17]

Also interested in sports law, he and his co-authors proposed a method of giving fans an opportunity to participate in the management of sports teams.[18] He also wrote opinion pieces for The New York Times, Slate, and the Atlantic, among other publications.[19]

In addition to his scholarship, he was a consultant for the defense in a federal prosecution in New Jersey involving rabbis accused of extortion by the FBI.[20]


Markel was shot at his home in Tallahassee, Florida, shortly before 11 a.m. on July 18, 2014, and died early the next day.[21] He was talking on the phone as he pulled into his garage, and said that he saw someone in his driveway.[22] The Tallahassee Police Department announced that Markel was the "intended victim" and termed his death a murder.[23] On August 1, 2014, the Associated Press reported that emergency medical response was delayed because a dispatcher erroneously classified the call as less serious than it was.[24]

A highly regarded and popular professor, Markel was the subject of many tributes from the academic community.[8][19] The day after his death, a memorial service was held at the synagogue he had attended, Congregation Shomrei Torah, in Tallahassee. Markel is buried in Pardes Shalom Cemetery in Maple, Ontario.[25]

A $25,000 CrimeStoppers reward was initially offered. A separate, independently funded $100,000 award was offered in July 2015.[26] At that time, the one-year anniversary of the murder, the Tallahassee Police Department called a press conference and showed photographs of a silver pine mica Toyota Prius, asking the public for help in locating the vehicle.[27] The police also released un-redacted police reports from the crime scene in February 2016, but these contained no new information regarding the crime, only the names of police officers who visited the crime scene.[28]

2016 developments[edit]

On May 26, 2016, a suspect, Sigfredo Garcia, 34, of Miami Beach, was arrested for first-degree murder based on a warrant issued by a Leon County judge. Tallahassee police would not release further details, but told reporters that the killing was being investigated as a murder for hire and sources said that they expected more arrests in the case.[4][29] A few days later, a judge in Leon County Court ordered the probable cause affidavit behind the arrest unsealed. The affidavit revealed investigators' belief that Garcia and Luis Rivera, 33, had traveled from the Miami area in a rented Toyota Prius, staying in motels the nights of July 16 and 17, 2014, to commit the crime.[3][4] Evidence included cellular phone, banking and SunPass electronic toll collection records; security camera footage from buildings and city buses along the streets Markel and the alleged killers had driven, and the testimony of an unnamed informant along with a nearby witness.[30] The morning of the killing, they had trailed Markel as he ran errands and went to the gym, until they could shoot him at his home.[3] The affidavit further outlined investigators' theory that Markel's death was a contract killing, since neither of the accused knew Markel, and no property was taken. The motive was believed to be the desire of the family of Wendi Adelson, Markel's ex-wife, to allow her to relocate to the Miami area with the children. She had been granted 50-50 custody when the couple's acrimonious divorce had been finalized in 2013, when Markel had won an order prohibiting her from moving to Miami with the children. In 2014 Markel filed a motion that would have prohibited his mother-in-law from being alone and unsupervised with the children due to alleged disparaging remarks about their father. Investigators alleged that Charles Adelson (Wendi Adelson’s brother), who reportedly disliked Markel, was in a "personal relationship" with Katherine Magbanua, who had mothered Garcia's two children. Magbanua was the first call Garcia dialed after Markel was murdered.[30]

A grand jury in Leon County indicted Garcia and Rivera on charges of first-degree murder in connection with Markel's killing on June 17, 2016.[4] Rivera had been jailed on unrelated federal charges since 2014; he had pled guilty in federal court in Fort Lauderdale to racketeering conspiracy arising from his leadership of the North Miami group of the Latin Kings gang, was sentenced to more than 12 ½ years' imprisonment, and is currently incarcerated at the Coleman federal prison in central Florida.[31] The state filed documentation with the court. This included detailed information on Rivera and Garcia's first trip to Tallahassee on June 4–6, 2014, including an exhaustive review of cellular phone and GPS records placing them in the vicinity of Markel on both trips, and an expanded probable cause affadivit which included photographs and maps related to the murder. The media released videos of the Toyota Prius stalking Markel throughout Tallahassee on July 18, 2014.[32] Sigfredo Garcia was pictured in a Toyota Prius at an ATM in Pembroke Pines, wearing a white long-sleeved dress shirt.[33] Media reports using the released videos showed that immediately after the murder, video from a Tallahassee Bus ("Suspects Passes Bus"), showed the Prius going North on Thomasville Road with an individual in the passenger side changing into a long-sleeved white shirt.[34]

Prosectors released a Probable Cause Affidavit For Charlie Adelson in which they outlined their theory of the case: Charles Adelson (the brother of Markel's ex-wife Wendi Adelson) and Donna Adelson (Charles' and Wendi's mother) had used Katherine Magbanua as an intermediary to hire Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera for the killing.[35][36]

On September 16, 2016, the ABC News aired "In-Laws and Outlaws," on a 20/20 episode on the investigation into the murder.[37]

On October 1, 2016, police arrested Katherine Magbanua; she too was charged with murder.[38] On October 4, 2016, Luis Rivera pled guilty to the charge of murder as part of a plea bargain in which he was sentenced to 19 years in prison, which would run concurrently with another sentence he was already serving.[39] In his confession, Rivera claimed that Sigredo Garcia had recruited Rivera to take part in the killing of Markel and that Katherine Magbanua was "the woman in the middle doing everything." Rivera also claimed that he did not know the names of the people who had hired Garcia and Magbanua but that the reason for the killing was "because the lady wants her two kids back. She wants full custody of the kids."[40]

The Adelsons deny any involvement; according to a statement issued by their lawyers, "none of the Adelsons — Wendi, her brother Charlie, or their parents Donna and Harvey — had anything to do with Dan [Markel]'s murder."[41]

2019 developments[edit]

The trials for Katherine Magbanua and Sigfredo Garcia were combined and took place in October 2019.[42] In the trial, prosecutors claimed that Charles Adelson had arranged to pay Magbanua, Rivera and Garcia $100,000 to murder Markel so that Wendi Adelson could get full custody of Markel's and Wendi Adelson's two sons. At trial, Magbanua denied involvement but claimed that Adelson was "involved" in the murders and that Garcia was guilty. For his part, Garcia claimed that Rivera had carried out the killing alone.[43] On October 11th, a jury found Sigfredo Garcia guilty of first-degree murder in the 2014 killing of Dan Markel. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on Katherine Magbanua.[44] Magbanua remains in jail, charged as a co-conspirator, and she will be retried.[45]

Personal life[edit]

Markel married Wendi Jill Adelson in February 2006.[9] They had two sons, one born in 2009 and one in 2010. Adelson left the marriage and the couple separated in 2012. Their divorce became final in 2013.[46][47]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Markel, Dan (June 7, 2011). "One of the best posts on health care I've seen, ever". Prawfsblawg. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
  2. ^ "Canadian professor was killed in targeted attack, Florida police say". The Globe and Mail. July 21, 2014. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "Documents: Markel Custody Battle May be Motive for His Murder". WTXL-TV. June 2, 2016. Retrieved June 2, 2016.[dead link]
  4. ^ a b c d Karl Etters, Two indicted in Markel slaying, Tallahassee Democrat (June 17, 2016).
  5. ^ Casey, Nikki. "Who Had Dan Markel Killed?". The Forward. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Obituaries, Emmanuel College Magazine, Vol. XCVII (2014-2015) p. 208.
  7. ^ Dan Markel, Toronto-born law prof, dead after shot in Florida home, CBC News (July 21, 2016)./
  8. ^ a b c d e f John Schwartz, Police Seek Clues in Fatal Shooting of Widely Known Criminal Law Professor in Florida: Dan Markel's Death Reverberates Among Legal Scholars, The New York Times (July 21, 2014).
  9. ^ a b c "Wendi Adelson and Dan Markel". The New York Times. February 26, 2006.
  10. ^ "Wendi Adelson and Dan Markel". The New York Times. February 26, 2006. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Gary Fineout & Joe Reedy, Mystery Remains After Arrest in Killing of Florida Professor, ABC News (May 26, 2016).
  12. ^ Dan Markel, Tribute, Senior Judge Michael Daly Hawkins: A Judge for Justice, 43 Ariz. St. L.J. 57 (2001).
  13. ^ a b Criminal Law Scholar Dan Markel Joins Faculty (press release), Florida State University College of Law (May 1, 2005).
  14. ^ Markel, Dan; Collins, Jennifer; Lieb, Ethan (April 2009). Privilege or Punish: Criminal Justice and the Challenge of Family Ties. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 0195380061.
  15. ^ "State, Be Not Proud: A Retributivist Defense of the Commutation of Death Row and the Abolition of the Death Penalty" (PDF). Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review,. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 14, 2010. Retrieved July 9, 2019.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  16. ^ "Are Shaming Punishments Beautifully Retributive? Retributivism and the Implications for the Alternative Sanctions Debate". ssrn.com. SSRN 410922. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  17. ^ "How Should Punitive Damages Work?". ssrn.com. SSRN 1260019. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  18. ^ "Catalyzing Fans". ssrn.com. SSRN 2297050. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  19. ^ a b Jacob Gershman. "Legal Academic World Shaken by Shooting Death of FSU Professor". Wall Street Journal.
  20. ^ Albert Samaha. "Legal Consultant on Divorce Extortion Cases Murdered in Florida". Village Voice.
  21. ^ Sean Rossman, Tallahassee Democrat (July 19, 2014). "FSU law professor dies in shooting". Tallahassee Democrat.
  22. ^ "Law professor was 'on the phone when he saw killer in his driveway who followed him' - Daily Mail Online". Mail Online.
  23. ^ "Florida Law Professor Dan Markel Was 'Intended Victim' in Slaying". The Forward. July 22, 2014.
  24. ^ Associated Press, Error Made By Dispatcher in Professor Shooting
  25. ^ Jennifer Portman and Sean Rossman (July 26, 2014). "Friends recall Dan Markel". Tallahassee Democrat.
  26. ^ Karl Etters, 'Not finished yet': More arrests likely in Markel case, Tallahassee Democrat (May 26, 2016).
  27. ^ Jeff Berlew, New information released in the Markel case. , Tallahassee Democrat (July 17, 2015).
  28. ^ Julie Montanaro, TPD Released New Documents in Markel Murder Case, WCTV (February 25, 2016).
  29. ^ Karl Etters, Markel killing investigated as murder for hire, more arrests expected, Tallahassee Democrat (May 26, 2016).
  30. ^ a b Bennett, Sherrie (May 25, 2016). "Probable Cause, Case 14-019848" (PDF). Townnews.com. Retrieved June 2, 2016.
  31. ^ Rebeca Piccardo & Paula McMahon, New details in FSU law prof's murder show second suspect is South Florida Latin Kings gang leader, Sun-Sentinel (June 4, 2016).
  32. ^ WCTV, State Attorney's Office Unveils New Evidence in Markel Murder Investigation, WCTV (June 24, 2016).
  33. ^ Tallahassee Police Department, Sigfredo Garcia Probable Cause Attachment A, Court Document (June 24, 2016).
  34. ^ WCTV, "Suspect Passes Bus", State Attorney's Office Unveils New Evidence in Markel Murder Investigation, WCTV (June 24, 2016).
  35. ^ Etters, Karl. "Documents detail potential links to Markel's in-laws". Tallahassee Democrat. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  36. ^ Lat, David. "The Dan Markel Case: The Probable Cause Affidavit For Charlie Adelson". Above the Law. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  37. ^ Lat, David. "The ABC News '20/20′ Segment On The Dan Markel Murder Case". Above the Law. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  38. ^ Mizoguchi, Karen. "New Suspect Arrested in Connection with Execution-Style Killing of Florida State University Professor". People Magazine. Retrieved October 11, 2019.
  39. ^ WCTV, Suspect pleads guilty in Dan Markel murder case, WCTV (October 24, 2016).
  40. ^ Karl Etters, Rivera: 'We were coming up here to kill somebody', Tallahassee Democrat (October 10, 2016).
  41. ^ Anderson, Curt (August 3, 2016). "Ex-wife of slain Florida law professor denies role in death". Associated Press. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  42. ^ http://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/2019/10/10/dan-markel-murder-trial-closing-arguments-jury-deliberations-beginning/3928207002/
  43. ^ http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article235941002.html
  44. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/11/us/dan-markel-florida-murder-verdict.html
  45. ^ http://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/2019/10/11/trial-verdict-dan-markel-murder-katherine-magbanua-sigfredo-garcia-found/3929787002/
  46. ^ Aradillas, Elaine. "Suspect Arrested in 2014 Execution-Style Murder of Florida State Professor Dan Markel". people.com. People. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  47. ^ Gutman, Matt (July 2014). "FSU Professor Was Talking on Cell Phone When Shooting Happened". abcnews.go.com. ABC News. Retrieved May 26, 2016. Their divorce was acrimonious, punctuated by dozens of court filings, hearings and a protracted custody battle over their two boys. Markel described the day Adelson left him as his "Pearl Harbor," friends told ABC News. Markel told friends that, without warning, Adelson had packed up the house and the children and left while he was away on a business trip.

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