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FSU Law Professor Dan Markel: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

On the morning of July 19, 2014, Florida State University law professor Dan Markel dropped his two sons off at school and took a quick trip to the gym before heading back to his home in Tallahassee. After pulling into his garage, Markel was shot twice in the head. Approximately 15 hours later, the law professor died in the hospital. He was 41-years-old. Tonight, ABC News’ 20/20 will investigate the specifics of Markel’s murder, and will provide an update of where his case stands today.

Read on to learn more about Dan Markel.


1. He Graduated Magna Cum Laude From Harvard

Daniel Markel was born in Toronto, Canada, on October 8, 1972. He was an impressive student, and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard, where he majored in politics and philosophy.

After completing his undergraduate degree, Markel went on to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and eventually received his master’s in political theory from Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He earned his J.D. from Harvard Law Schoool in 2001.


2. He Was a Law Professor

Before working as a law professor at FSU, Markel was a law clerk to Judge Michael Daly Hawkins of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He was an associate for the law firm Kellog, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans, & Figel in Washington DC, and focused on criminal defense.

Markel began working at FSU’s College of Law in 2005, and was tenured in 2010. He was the D’Alemberte Professor Law at the university, and spent his time writing when he was not busy in the classroom. Markel co-authored a book titled, Privilege or Punish: Criminal Justice and the Challenge of Family Ties in 2009. He also wrote opinion pieces for prestigious publications like The New York Times, Slate, and The Atlantic.


3. Police Believe It Was a Murder for Hire

Dan Markel had legally divorced Wendi Adelson about one year before his death. ABC News has described the divorce as “a bitter legal battle involving their property and their children.”

After Markel was shot in the head and rushed to the hospital, local police located Adelson, and brought her in for questioning. The interview lasted over five hours, and begun with Adelson breaking out in tears, sobbing, “What happened… I just don’t understand? How could this happen?”

During her interview, Adelson revealed that she had been dating another FSU professor, Jeffrey Lacasse, for approximately nine months, and that he “didn’t like Danny [Markel] because Danny hurt [her].” Though Lacasse’s alibi checked out (he was hundreds of miles away at the time of the murder) he shared with police that Wendi’s parents and brother “hated” Markel and they should be further investigated. On a video recording, Lacasse told police, “They hate Danny in a way. I have never seen this kind of obsession. I mean, their hobby is hating Danny. I would just say, I would be investigating Charlie Adelson. I don’t know if he did this, but if you are looking at someone, don’t miss him.”


4. He Had Two Children

Adelson and Markel were married in February 2006. They had two sons together, Lincoln and Benjamin, who were born in 2009 and 2010. The couple separated in 2012, and their divorce was finalized in 2013.

Like Markel, Adelson was a law professor at Florida State University up until January 30, 2015. She subsequently worked as a law clerk to Judge Adalberto Jordan of the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Miami.


5. Arrests Were Made Just Months Ago

Sigfredo Garcia, 34, was arrested for the murder of Dan Markel on May 26, 2016. The probable cause affidavit revealed that Garcia was helped by a man named Luis Rivera, 33, and the two traveled from their Miami homes to Tallahassee in a Toyota Prius, staying in motels the nights leading up to the shooting. The affidavit cites cellular phone, banking, toll collection records, and security camera footage as evidence.

Investigators believe Markel’s death was a murder by hire situation– neither Garcia nor Rivera knew Markel personally and none of his property was stolen. They have also provided details to support their theory that the killing was motivated by Wendi Adelson’s family, who disliked Markel. At the time of Markel’s death, Wendi’s brother, Charlie Adelson, was dating a woman named Katherine Magbanua, who has two children with Garcia.

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