Florida State Professor Dan Markel Shot At Home [UPDATED]

1405809806000-Dan-MarkelFlorida State law professor and leading blogger legal Dan Markel died on Friday from an apparent gunshot wound at his home. Markel, 41, was a popular professor at Florida State University College of Law and the founder of Prawfsblawg, a popular legal blog. All such deaths without witnesses (called “unattended incidents”) are investigated as possible homicides. UPDATE: The police are saying that Markel was “targeted’ and murdered.

Markel was found dead after a neighbor called police about hearing a “loud bang.” Markel left behind two young sons, ages 3 and 5, and was actively involved in his synagogue, Congregation Shomrei Torah. He was going through a divorce from his wife. He was known to be someone devoted to his children and to his academic work.

There have been a series of burglaries in the area and Markel’s own home was burglarized a few years ago. One blogger has stated that he believes that Markel that was the victim of a violent burglary but later withdrew that statement.

Markel had a brilliant career. He is the author of the book Privilege or Punish: Criminal Justice and the Challenge of Family Ties. He was raised in Toronto and graduated from Harvard College in 1995 and later received his masters from the University of Cambridge before graduating from Harvard Law School in 2001.

It is a terrible loss for family, the Florida State community, and academia. He was a prolific and brilliant academic who left his mark on this Earth with his writings and friendships. I did not know Dan but the testimonials about his life reveal a man with a wide network of friends and fans. He clearly lived his life to the fullest, albeit a life cut short on Friday.

49 thoughts on “Florida State Professor Dan Markel Shot At Home [UPDATED]

  1. Three weeks into the death (or suicide) of Prof. Markel, and law enforcement do not have any suspects or made any arrests?

    Why not tell us a few details? For example, Did Prof. Markel own a similar weapon that was used in his death? How many people (like the neighbor who ‘found’ Prof. Markel in his car) are willing to go outside after hearing a gun shot (in my neighborhood, you stay away from the windows and immediately contact the police)? Any suicide notes, written or on his computer/emails?

    A college professor is ‘murdered’ at his home, and there are no suspects or witnesses?

    Three weeks later, and law enforcement is still keeping info from the public?

    Something is not adding up…….will law enforcement keep the autopsy info from the public, as well?

    Another question: he was ‘murdered’ on a Friday morning, and the crime scene unit removed the crime scene tape from his home early Sunday morning? Kinda quick for a ‘murder’ scene (this question was posited by another news reporter but TPD refused to comment on the reporter’s question/concern)?

  2. RWL

    On an active investigation it is usually not the case where the police will release the names of suspects unless there is a reason for it that is likely to result in their apprehension. When evidence is still being gathered or there is a flight risk they generally do not.

    Also, information that ordinarily would be released by a public disclosure request is not subject to release as long as there is an investigation in progress. It is not, depending on the state, available until the person is formally charged and/or is also discoverable by the defendant.

    Also as to the time the police had the scene, that amount of time is not out of the ordinary. The purpose of the crime scene investigation is to gather evidence. When all expected evidence is collected, the scene is most often released. The police cannot hold a scene such as a residence indefinitely because it deprives an owner of the use of the scene and likely will be scrutinized by the court that issued any applicable search warrant.

    Generally the police will make as much effort as they can to remove all the evidence at once. Once they leave the scene the evidence becomes increasingly and legally “spoiled” because the value can be compromised by others having access to such evidence. It then it becomes unreliable and could be considered tampered. This does not mean that it cannot be retrieved and entered as evidence but these evidence introductions into trial is likely to be more difficult due to defense objections.

    Also sometimes homicide investigations can last even years, though most go cold after six months. Also, there are times where a suspect is known but there is insufficient evidence to either charge or obtain a conviction. That is usually the reason they wait until convincing evidence is gathered.

    Moreover, if the prosecution presents a case for trial where the evidence is weak a judge or jury could find the defendant not guilty and the state is barred by double-jeopardy from a subsequent criminal trial of the same crimes.

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    • Caston,

      I find your post inappropriate and disrespectful not only to those of us who are grieving this horrendous event but to Professor Markel’s family, friends and colleagues.

    • AY,

      The police are chasing the wind. How many law professors are ‘murder’ in their homes, at 10 am, with no witnesses or suspects?

      I think the TPD need to start looking at suicide as a possibility?

    • Shannon,

      The TPD has not confirmed which part of Mr. Markel heads was shot.

      The TPD will not confirm if Mr. Markel owns a similar weapon.

      The TPD and the University will not confirm why Mr. Markel was home at 10am, instead of being at work.

      The University will not confirm if Mr. Markel was (or has been) under going mental stress evaluation (i.e. be being treated for depression) due to his divorce, unable to balance work/life issues, on sabbatical, or leave to resolve issues circumnavigating his divorce?

      The TPD has not confirmed that they have 100% ruled out death by suicide.

      The TPD has not confirmed that they have any leads or suspects.

      I will ask the question, again: How many law professors are ‘murdered’ at 10am, in their homes, in a decent neighborhood, with no leads, no suspects, or witnesses, and the police department refuses to give info? The neighbor, who called 911 and spoke to the dispatcher, wasn’t afraid to go towards the gunshot ‘noise’? Why? The autopsy should be completed by the end of this week? Will this info be withheld?

      1 month…..and counting…..

      Is being a law professor a dangerous career path?

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