Elizabeth L. Parker, Esq.
DALIA DIPPOLITO GUILTY IN MURDER-FOR-HIRE CASE The Sun Sentinel May 14, 2011 Alexia Campbell Dalia Dippolito is guilty of trying to have her husband killed, a Palm Beach County jury said Friday afternoon. After less than three hours of deliberations, the jury announced its verdict in a packed courtroom just before 4 p.m. Dippolito's eyes widened and her face fell as the verdict was read, but she didn't cry. Judge Jeffrey Colbath revoked Dippolito's house arrest, and she was handcuffed and led away by two sheriff's deputies. Her mother, Randa Mohammed, began weeping and stormed out of the courtroom. Dippolito, 28, is to be sentenced June 16, and faces up to 30 years in prison. Juror Leigh-Ann Verni said there was some second-guessing during deliberations but not for long. "We had our ups and downs. We would deliberate about 'What if it was?' and 'What if it wasn't?' But we can't judge it on anything else but the evidence." Likewise, juror Chadd Milton, 39, of Loxahatchee said it was strictly about the evidence Significant, he said, was that Dippolito took all her jewelry to the gym with her on the day her husband was to be murdered. If it was a made-for-TV hoax, she wouldn't have taken that risk, the former U.S. Marine said. And he saw no clear link among Michael Dippolito and Dalia's two lovers, casting doubt on her defense that everyting was a hoax. "I could only see that (Dalia) was the common denominator in the process," he said. Michael Dippolito, Dalia's husband, arrived in court Friday just minutes before the verdict was read, then stood outside the Palm Beach County Courthouse, flanked by his three attorneys. "This is not over for him," attorney Jason Brodie said. "It's been two years. We still have a divorce case to deal with. This is a first step for him to move forward." Michael Dippolito declined to comment. Brodie said he was "overcome with emotion." The two alternate jurors â€” who had sat through the two-week trial and were dismissed before deliberations began at 1 p.m. â€” waited for the verdict, and followed Michael Dippolito outside. "I really feel for you, being taken advantage of," said Sandra Clutter, 47, who lives west of Boynton Beach. She and alternate Diane Holder, 26, of West Palm Beach, both had said they would have voted for a guilty verdict. Jurors heard nearly five hours of dramatic closing arguments on Friday, with prosecutors describing Dalia Dippolito as "evil and greedy" and her defense attorney describing her husband, Michael Dippolito, as a "conniving con man." Defense attorney Michael Salnick made a plea to jurors to let Dalia Dippolito "wake up from this nightmare" and reach a verdict of not guilty. She was arrested August 2009 after she allegedly agreed to pay a hit man $3,000 to kill her husband of six months. The hit man was an undercover Boynton Beach police officer. Salnick said the police investigation that led to her arrest was full of inconsistencies, problems and "bad judgment." The lure of fame tainted police, and led her husband, Michael Dippolito, to concoct a reality-television hoax, he said.
Elizabeth L. Parker, Esq. Dalia Dippolito, Salnick argued, didn't intend to kill her husband. Instead, she thought she was being recorded for a reality show in order to help her husband get a role on reality TV. "Do you think [Mike Dippolito] is going to admit what he did?" Salnick asked jurors. "He put his wife out front with this whole concoction and the results for his wife have been tragic." Police staged a crime scene at the couple's townhouse and told her Michael Dippolito had been killed. Later that day they had Michael Dippolito confront his wife at the police station. Salnick tried to discredit the state's key witnesses: Dalia's husband, the confidential informant and the police officers in charge of the case. He pointed out that police Sgt. Paul Sheridan, who oversaw the case, admitted he lied when getting Dalia Dippolito to sign a waiver allowing producers of the television show "Cops" to show her face. Michael Dippolito, a convicted felon, is a scam artist who conned police into his reality-show stunt, Salnick said. Mohammed Shihadeh, the confidential informant and Dalia's lover, is an "opportunist" who lied to police about the murder plot as part of his role in the hoax. "They played for the press and they played for sensationalism," Salnick said. But Verni, the juror, said their decision was not swayed by the defense's contention that this murder-for-hire was orchestrated by the intended victim for a TV career. "It was based on the evidence. There was nothing that we saw that would lead to an actual reality TV show. We based our decision on evidence and we went with our gut and it was 'guilty.'" Verni said the most condemning evidence was the undercover video. "Definitely, the actual videos with her and the undercover cop and then her and the C.I. [confidential informant]." Dalia and her mother wiped away tears as Salnick finished his closing argument. During one of the breaks, the women hugged and sobbed in the bathroom. For her part, Chief Assistant State Attorney Elizabeth Parker told jurors there was no evidence showing Dalia and her husband were acting in a reality show stunt. She described Dalia as "shameless" in her attempt to have her husband killed. She wanted his townhouse and owed him money, she said. "She was caught in the act of being herself," Parker said. Earlier, in her closing arguments, Assistant State Attorney Laura Burkhart Laurie called Dalia Dippolito a "cold, calculated" killer who used sex as a tool to get what she wanted. "During what should have been the honeymoon phase, she's out sleeping with three different men, blowing through her husband's money and plotting Michael Dippolito's murder. She got herself in way too deep and the only way out was to kill him," Laurie said. Michael Dippolito was in love with his wife, Laurie said, and was unaware that she was scheming to get him out of the picture. If she didn't really plan to have him killed, why was she talking to the "hit man" about her alibi, she asked jurors. "She planned her husband's murder as simple as making dinner reservations," she said.