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Donna Adelson: Mother charged with son-in-law’s hitman murder complains about jail conditions

Donna Adelson: Mother charged with son-in-law’s hitman murder complains about jail conditions

Donna Adelson has been in jail for just over two weeks but claims she has been subjected to “cruel and inhumane conditions” at the facility and she wants out, preferably in time for Christmas.

Her attorney Marissel Descalz filed a motion Tuesday requesting that Ms Adelson be moved from solitary confinement into the general population at Leon County Detention Facility or be placed on house arrest.

Ms Descalz wrote in the motion that some jail staff have treated her with “cruelty,” including denying her blood pressure medication and preventing her from showering for days at a time and has been allowed to call her husband, Harvey Adelson, only once.

The 73-year-old woman is the latest member of the Adelson family to face charges related to the hitman murder of her former son-in-law, Dan Markel, who was fatally shot in 2014.

Donna Adelson has been in jail just over two weeks, but claims she has been subjected to ‘cruel and inhumane conditions’ (Leon County Detention Facility/Law&Crime livestream)
Donna Adelson has been in jail just over two weeks, but claims she has been subjected to ‘cruel and inhumane conditions’ (Leon County Detention Facility/Law&Crime livestream)

Ms Adelson was arrested on 13 November at Miami International Airport as she and her husband were attempting to board a flight with one-way tickets to Vietnam. She was apprehended and then transported to Tallahassee where she was booked on 20 November.

On the ride from Miami to Tallahassee, Ms Adelson was placed in the back of the vehicle with no water, according to Ms Descalzo.

“Approximately 4-5 hours into the trip, when the officers finally checked on her, Donna was shaking, dehydrated and unable to stand up or move,” Ms Descalzo wrote. “As a result, the officers had to call paramedics to a rest stop.”

When they arrived at the jail, Ms Adelson was then put in the infirmary under direct supervision before being moved to a small solitary unit with “a toilet, a sink, a mattress on the floor and a dirty blanket. She has requested a book or Bible but has not been given anything and has been forced to eat her food with her hands.”

She emphasised in the motion that her client has been sitting “naked” on a mattress in a solitary cell and given no eating utensils.

A day later, a mental health official asked Ms Adelson about the medicine she was taking but she “felt uncomfortable” because she was unable to see the person’s face and did not know if they were a health-care professional, Ms Descalzo wrote.

“When Donna made her concerns known, the official told Donna that Donna ‘is a fancy white lady who murdered her son and now thinks she has rights,’” the defence motion says. “The official joked with the other guards about this outside Donna’s door.”

Ms Adelson has not yet been convicted of a crime, her attorney pointed out in the motion, but jail staff were still “intentionally punishing” her and violating her constitutional rights.

“Instead of providing her actual medical care, the jail has shown deliberate indifference to Donna’s medical needs ... and letting her become weaker and weaker as she sits in her cell naked all day with nothing but a mattress on the floor,” she wrote.

Ms Adelson is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy and solicitation in the murder-for-hire killing of Dan Markel.

She was arrested just a week after her son, Charlie Adelson, a Fort Lauderdale periodontist, was convicted of the murder following an eight-day trial at the Leon County Courthouse.

Charlie Adelson is cross examined by Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman during his trial for the murder of Dan Markel
Charlie Adelson is cross examined by Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman during his trial for the murder of Dan Markel

Prosecutors argue that the Adelsons conspired to get rid of Markel after a bitter custody dispute between Markel and his ex-wife, Wendi Adelson, Donna’s daughter.

Wendi, who has denied involvement with the murder and testified under immunity at several trials, has not been charged. Neither has her father, Harvey Adelson.

Angela Green-Sherrod, a spokeswoman for the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, told The Tallahassee Democrat that the agency doesn’t comment on ongoing legal matters per policy.

“We cannot discuss the specific details of the pending motion at this time, but the Leon County Detention Facility takes the care, custody, and control of everyone in our facility very seriously,” Ms Green-Sherrod said.