WEST PALM BEACH (CBS4) – In a trial made for reality television, that television genre will play a central role.
Dalia Dippolito is accused of hiring a hit man to murder her husband, Michael in the summer of 2009.
Instead of a hit man, Dippolito was talking to an undercover cop. Also, Boynton Beach Police were recording the conversation. They also recorded her reaction when she arrived home to find a crime scene — supposedly the murder of her husband of 6 months, Michael.
However, her husband was alive and well.
On the first day of her trial in West Palm Beach, her attorney, Michael Salnick, told jurors of her unusual defense — that the entire thing was a set up for a reality television show.
“It was a hoax,” Salnick told the jury. “A ruse. A plan. That Mike Dippolito – whether he’ll admit it or not — hoped to capture the attention of someone in reality tv.”
Dippolito, 28, faces one count of solicitation to commit first degree murder, which could net her up to 30 years behind bars.
Prosecutors say Dippolito simply wanted her husband dead. Prosecutor Elizabeth Parker told jurors that Dippolito’s conversation with an undercover cop proves that.
“He asked her, “Are you sure you want to kill him?” Parker told jurors. “Without hesitation — as if she had ice running through her veins — she said, “‘There’s no changing. I’m determined already. I’m positive. I’m 5,000 percent sure.’”
Michael Dippolito took the stand Tuesday afternoon for about 90 minutes. He did not address the reality television theory before court adjourned, however he is expected to return to the witness stand Wednesday morning.
He did tell jurors about his checkered past — he committed a fraud scheme and owes more than $100,000 in restitution. He is on probation and has also struggled with drug addiction in the past.
He also spoke about his quick courtship of Dalia Dippolito, the $20,000 engagement ring he bought her and how he perceived their life together.
“I liked it,” he said. “I loved it. I was happy.”
Prosecutors plan to rely on three pieces of video to unravel Dalia Dippolito’s alleged plan. First, they have the conversation in a car with an undercover officer.
In the video the officer asks her, “I just want to make sure that this is what you want. Sure you want to kill this dude?”
She responds, “Ha. I would be very happy.”
Prosecutors also recorded a tearful Dalia Dippolito arriving home on the day the murder was supposed to be carried out. She is seen walking up to an officer, crying and apparently stunned that her husband has been murdered.
Later, police recorded Dalia Dippolito in a police station when her husband walks in.
With her voice cracking she is heard saying, “Mike, come here. Come here please, come here. I didn’t do anything to you.”
Boynton Beach Police allegedly got wind of Dippolito’s plot from an informant. They arranged for him to meet with her at a Mobil gas station on Gateway Boulevard to finalize the arrangements.
During their conversation, Dippolito reportedly gave him $1200 for the hit man to buy a gun; she also gave him pictures of her husband and their home. Dippolito also allegedly wanted to know when it would take place so she could arrange to be at a hair appointment and thus have a credible alibi.
Dippolito met with an undercover Boynton Beach police officer who pretended to be the hired ‘hit man’; the two met in the parking lot of a CVS drug store where she allegedly agreed to pay him $3,000 for the murder.
According to court records, Dippolito had tried twice before to kill her husband. One time, she allegedly tried to hire a Riviera Beach man to kill her husband but he later reneged. She also allegedly spiked her husband’s drink with odorless anti-freeze. He reportedly spit out the drink after commenting that it tasted like gasoline.
Last week the judge ruled that the jury would not hear about the ‘spiked’ drink, but the alleged attempt to hire another man to kill her husband would be admissible.