WEST PALM BEACH (CBS4) –A South Florida woman accused of hiring a hit man to kill her husband has been found guilty.
After only three hours of deliberation, a jury handed down the verdict against Dalia Dippolito.
Dippolito faces 30 years in prison when she is sentenced on June 16th.
Prosecutors argue she wanted her husband dead. In closing arguments to the jury early Friday afternoon – prosecutors painted an ugly picture.
“You’ve seen a greedy, manipulative, evil woman who won’t stop at anything to get what she wants,” prosecutor Elizabeth Parker said.
Prosecutors say she plotted to kill her husband Michael Dippolito in August 2009. Dippolito was seen on police surveillance telling the hit man, really an undercover Boynton Beach police officer, that she was sure she wanted Michael Dippolito dead.
But Dippolito’s defense was that she was acting for a reality TV show.
“What’s happening now is this young lady is on trial for an offense that number one, didn’t happen the way it’s alleged and number two is wrought with so much inconsistency and some many things that don’t make sense, that that’s another reason you have to go back and look at the records to understand what’s going on here,” defense attorney Michael Salnic said.
But prosecutors said that whole idea of shooting for a realty tv show was blown when Dipolitto did not respond properly when police set up a fake crime scene, telling Dipolitto her husband was dead. “If this was a reality show stunt, when she was told by Sgt. Ramsey that her husband had been killed her real reaction would have been, ‘what do you mean, how was he killed? This was a stunt! He can’t really be dead!’” said Parker.
CBS4′s Ted Scouten spoke with alternate juror Sandra Clutter Friday who told him that she did not believe the reality show defense and she would have also convicted Dippolito. “I didn’t believe that there was enough evidence there to demonstrate that it was a reality tv show hoax,” said Clutter.
According to the Palm Beach Post, two jurors who sat through Friday’s closing arguments said after they were dismissed Friday afternoon that they were not swayed by defense attorney Michael Salnick’s arguments.
“He can take a steel girder and bend it into a pretzel,” Sandra Clutter said she would think while hearing Salnick speak during the high-profile trial. “Dalia is certainly getting her money’s worth.”
The defense rested Thursday in the trial of Dalia Dippolito. Dippolito did not testify
On Thursday her mother Randa Mohammed tearfully testified that Dalia was a different person before she met Michael Dippolito. She says the two had a close relationship but that all changed when Dalia began dating Michael Dippolito.
A man she described as untrustworthy and controlling, Randa Mohammed also disputed a prosecution allegation that Dalia Dippolito was looking for funeral homes before her husband could be killed.
According to Randa Mohammed Dalia helped her do an internet search to find a funeral home where Dalia’s grandfather could be cremated. Her grandfather died the same week as the murder for hire plot unfolded.
Salnick also called an expert on reality TV to the stand.
Sarah Coyne, who has a doctorate and teaches at Brigham Young University in Utah, has published over thirty papers on the genre. She testified that anything goes on reality TV and boundaries are tested. “People try to become famous,” said Coyne.
According to Coyne, the three ways someone gets on a reality TV show are through an audition, approaching a producer or doing something outlandish.
She also said that on occasion someone has used YouTube to their advantage to gain an audience. She pointed to teen idol Justin Bieber’s successful video that went viral and caught the attention of an agent in the music industry.
When asked whether reality TV is benign entertainment or the bane of society, Coyne said she would need to do more research.
The last defense witness Carol Peden, who works for Global Compusearch as a digital forensics expert, said she analyzed what was on Dalia Dippolito’s computer that police seized.
Peden testified that Dalia Dippolito had done an internet search on reality TV, three months before the supposed murder for hire plot. She found searches for, “reality shows auditioning in Florida and VH1 castings.”