Florida State University College of Law Professor Dan Markel was tragically murdered execution-style while sitting in his car in his Tallahassee home’s garage nearly two years ago on July 18, 2014. Until recently, it’s been a mystery who shot Professor Markel. But now, authorities have released evidence that the murder may have been related to Markel’s bitter divorce with his ex-wife Wendi Adelson, and her family’s strong desire that she take the children and move to South Florida.
Read the full story from People magazine here.
The couple’s child custody situation was yet unresolved at the time of Markel’s murder, and Markel was contesting Wendi and the kids’ relocation. He was also planning to ask the court to limit the children’s contact with Wendi’s mother, whom he claimed made “disparaging remarks about him to his sons”.
Sigfredo Garcia, 34, has been charged (and has pled not guilty) to Markel’s murder. Luis Rivera, 33, a man currently in federal prison on unrelated charges, will also likely be charged, and there may be other arrests made as well.
Here’s some of the evidence against Garcia and Rivera as reported in People:
- Garcia and Rivera match descriptions of suspects seen in the area at the time of the murder
- They rented a vehicle to travel from Miami to Tallahassee, which also matched the description of a car seen leaving the area after the murder
- Wendi Adelson’s brother Charlie was in a “personal relationship” with the mother of Garcia’s children, who was also listed as a business associate of Garcia
- Cell phone data, ATM transactions, and an eyewitness also tied Garcia and Rivera to the crime
- The eyewitness was asked to rent a Tallahassee motel room in his/her name for Garcia and Rivera on the night before the murder
- The witness said Rivera had a handgun in his possession when they met
This unfortunate tragedy seems to be partly the result of a very ugly divorce. Divorce is almost always a very emotional time, and can get extremely intense and heated (even ugly) if the parties cannot see eye to eye, particularly if there are children or a significant amount of assets involved.
Thankfully, most divorces — even the ugliest ones — do not result in murder. This case is clearly an exception, triggered by some very dark and sinister motives. Nevertheless, it is still a good reminder of the reality that divorce — particularly unresolved issues related to divorce — can bring out the worst in people.
If you are going through a divorce or contemplating filing for divorce, allow me to share some tips that may help the process remain as civil and amicable as possible:
- Hire an experienced attorney who specializes in family law. Now is not the time to use your sister’s friend’s cousin who just passed the Bar exam and will give you some cheap work. You want a seasoned veteran who knows how to navigate filings, knows the ins and outs of family law, who is comfortable in the courtroom, and who has a good reputation in the legal community.
- Yes, a good attorney costs money. Trust me, the cost of not having an attorney is often greater than the cost of having one. You are not a family law expert, nor are many of the good-intentioned volunteers who help people file their papers. Don’t risk losing something important or forfeiting your rights because your spouse had an attorney and you didn’t. For tips on how to pay for a divorce lawyer, click here.
- Communicate with your ex through your attorney or the courts. If every time you talk to your spouse it becomes an argument or fight, let someone else do the talking. (This does not mean a family member or friend — go through your attorney or the court if so ordered.)
- If you have children, resolve to not fight in front of them. Don’t forget, your kids are going through this divorce too. It will most certainly affect them to some degree. To what degree may be largely under your control. If you and your spouse yell or fight in front of the children, it will likely make these significant life changes even more difficult to cope with. Continue to be a mature adult and protect your children from the ugliness of divorce as much as it is within your control.