Ex-Wife of FSU Law Professor and Her Family Issue Statement Denying Any Role in His Murder

The ex-wife of a slain Florida State University law professor and her family on Wednesday denied having any involvement in an alleged murder-for-hire plot to kill him, according to a statement issued by their lawyers.

Attorneys for Wendi Adelson and several family members said in the statement that speculation they had a role in Dan Markel's killing is "categorically false.'' Authorities have previously said there may be a link between Markel's July 2014 slaying and the couple's contentious divorce.

"To be clear, none of the Adelsons - Wendi, her brother Charlie, or their parents Donna and Harvey - had anything to do with Dan's murder,'' said the statement emailed to The Associated Press by attorney David O. Markus, who represents Charlie Adelson.

Police say Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera traveled from South Florida to Tallahassee to kill Markel, who was shot in the head in broad daylight in his garage. Both men are awaiting a November trial on murder charges and prosecutors say they are seeking the death penalty.

Garcia has pleaded not guilty; Rivera has yet to enter a plea. Since the killing, Rivera was convicted of unrelated federal racketeering charges stemming from his leadership role in the Latin Kings street gang and was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison.

A Tallahassee Police Department affidavit said Markel's death was the result of the 2013 contentious divorce from Wendi Adelson, a lawyer who now lives in Miami Beach and works for a federal judge. Harvey and Charlie Adelson run a well-established dental practice in South Florida.

There was a battle between the two over Wendi Adelson's wish to move to South Florida with the couple's two small children so they could be closer to her family, according to court records. There were also disagreements over money Markel was supposed to pay his ex-wife and whether his mother-in-law could have unsupervised visits with the children.

The Adelson statement, however, indicates the family fully intended Markel to remain a presence in the children's lives and that there was no ill will toward him.

"Dan's death was a tragedy, and the loss is profound,'' the statement said.

The family has been subjected to an intense investigation over the past two years - including FBI involvement - that went over phone and computer records, emails, financial documents and text messages, the Adelson statement said.

"There is a reason that the police have not arrested any of the Adelsons - they weren't involved in Dan's death,'' the statement said.

A Tallahassee police spokesman did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

According to court documents, investigators say that Garcia and Rivera were hired by someone to kill Markel. They say evidence indicates they followed Markel from a nearby gym before he was shot.

Cellphone information showed the two men were in the Tallahassee area shortly before Markel's death and records link the two men to a Prius that a neighbor of Markel reported seeing pull out of the driveway right after hearing a gunshot, police say.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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