WEST PALM BEACH (CBS4) –The husband of a South Florida woman who is on trial for planning to have him killed took the stand Wednesday and denied it was a hoax so he could appear on a reality TV show.
Michael Dippolito spent much of the day Wednesday on the witness stand in a West Palm Beach courtroom where his former wife Dalia, now 28, is on trial for a murder-for-hire plot.
“Mr. Dippolito, did you know anything about a murder for hire plot against you?” the prosecutor asked.
“No,” he answered.
In opening statements Tuesday, defense attorney Michael Salnick told jurors that the scheme was all part of an elaborate hoax because Michael Dippolito was a fan of reality TV and wanted to star in his own program.
But prosecutors say Dalia Dippolito willfully tried to carry out her murder for hire plot in the summer of 2009.
They plan to show the jury an undercover police video which details Dalia Dippolito giving a supposed hit man instructions for carrying out the murder. Dalia Dippolito was unaware the hit man was an undercover cop.
On Wednesday, attorneys showed the jury a picture of Dalia Dippolito’s purse taken on the day the hit was supposed to be carried out.
The picture shows her purse stuffed with jewelry. Prosecutors say she took her jewels from the home thinking she would be unable to return once Boynton Beach police began their murder investigation.
On cross examination Salnick tried to poke holes in Michael Dippolito’s credibility having him admit he’s a convicted felon and that he had lied to his probation officer about how much income he was earning, knowing it could land him back in prison.
On Tuesday Michael Dippolito took the stand for about 90 minutes. On the stand he told 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.”
In testimony on Wednesday, Dippolito said he was scared in the months before his wife allegedly tried to hire a hit man to kill him. He testified that not only was there a threatening note left on the windshield of Chevy Tahoe but someone had also planted drugs in which the police found. Prosecutor Elizabeth Parker said it was Dalia who left the note and planted the drugs in an effort to have him arrested.
Prosecutors hope to wrap up their question of Dippolito before lunch and Salnick said his cross examination would probably last the rest of the day.
According to Salnick, the murder for hire plan was Michael Dippolito’s idea because he loved reality television shows and thought it would bring him fame and fortune if it got picked up by COPS who were in the area filming segments for a season. He said Michael persuaded Dalia to do it and is now refusing to admit it. He added that the Boynton Beach police fell for it because they were interested in pleasing the COPS producers.
In her opening statement Parker told jurors Dippolito simply wanted her husband dead and her 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’.”
Prosecutors plan to rely on three pieces of video to unravel Dalia Dippolito’s story.
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.”
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.
Dippolito faces one count of solicitation to commit first degree murder, which could cause her to spend the next 30 years behind bars.