A distraught Dalia Dippolito weeps in court after her sentencing on Friday in West Palm Beach, Fla.
A former Florida escort who landed on a “Cops” episode after attempting to hire a hitman to murder her husband was sentenced to 16 years behind bars, after a jury last month convicted her on a charge of solicitation of first-degree murder.
Dalia Dippolito’s murder solicitation case in 2009, gained national attention after millions saw videos of her trying to hire the hit man on the television show “Cops” and online. Sitting in the undercover cop car, she was recorded telling an undercover police officer she was “5,000 percent sure” she wanted him to kill her then newly wed husband, Michael Dippolito.
It took the six-member jury just an hour and a half to return with their guilty verdict in Dippolito’s third trial, potentially ending eight years of litigation.
A jury previously convicted Dippolito and sentenced her to 20 years in prison in 2011.
The verdict was overturned on an appeal and a retrial last fall ended with a 3-3 hung jury.
Dalia broke down as she was again taken into custody after her conviction, July 16, in Palm Beach Fla.
Dalia Dippolito was convicted in 2011 but that verdict and 20-year sentence were thrown out on appeal.
It was a different scene In December 2016, A happy Dalia hugs her defense counsel. The judge had declared a mistrial after a 3-3 hung jury
Lead defense attorney Brian Claypool argued for leniency, pushing for only two years in prison plus probation despite the fact that the minimum sentence recommended was four years, the Sun Sentinel reported.
Lawyers emphasized that the murder-for-hire plot was a lone dark mark on her otherwise “exemplary life,” while also stressing the importance of allowing her to raise her 14-month-old son.
Prosecutors, on the other hand pushed for the highest possible sentence, for “the most ruthless, cruel, inhumane, heartless and deliberate” acts against her now ex-husband Michael Dippolito.|
At her third trial last month on a murder-for-hire charge, her jury came back with a guilty verdict in about 90 minutes. That was after hearing recordings of her negotiating with an undercover Boynton Beach cop posing as a hitman, and discussing the murder plans with a former lover who was serving as a police informant.
“I’m positive, like 5,000 percent sure I want it done,” she told the officer of the plan to put two bullets in her husband’s head.
Prosecutors Craig Williams and Laura Laurie played that and other recordings for the judge, during the four-hour sentencing hearing.
Her former spouse during the trial recalled meeting Dippolito, who had been working as an escort at the time, and pushed back on claims that their marriage had been suffering at the time, ABC 10 reported.
“We got along really well. Our sex life was amazing and that was part of the whole reason, you know I was so into her and I thought she was into me.” Michael Dippolito testifies during the sentencing hearing for his ex-wife, Dalia
Michael Dippolito was the state’s only witness. He testified he met his ex-wife when she showed up at his door as a paid escort in October 2008. He said they got married just four months later, and it was great in the beginning, but soon the shine wore off and ended in ways unimaginable.
At the trial, the jury heard about his wife’s alleged attempts to poison him by spiking his tea with antifreeze, trying to steal a gun, talking with another hitman to have Michael killed, stealing $100,000 of her husband’s money, and scheming with a boyfriend in numerous text messages to get her husband thrown in jail on a probation violation.
After three trials and eight years of the case consuming his life, he hasn’t been able to escape it, Michael Dippolito said:“It spins around like a fan, I can’t get over it,” he told the judge on Friday, adding he wanted to see his ex-wife receive prison time.
Dippolito’s frustration over his experience was marked with angry words from the witness stand for the defense including several expletives.
Later, the judge took a moment to compliment Michael Dippolito’s honest remarks, noting, “He was an innocent victim in all of this.”
Dalia was caught on tape telling an undercover cop she wanted her husband, Michael Dippolito, killed
Dippolito was arrested on the spot after the exchange
“Listen, when I met her, it was very exciting,” Michael Dippolito said. “We got along really well. Our sex life was amazing and that was part of the whole reason, you know I was so into her and I thought she was into me.”
The trial mostly hinged on a 23-minute video in which Dippolito agreed to pay undercover officer Widy Jean $7,000 to put two bullet’s in her husband’s head. The pair discussed a series of strategies, but eventually settled on a botched burglary for their cover.
Prosecutors alleged she wanted control of their town house as well as her husband’s savings.
In filing Dalia a motion for downward departure, seeking 48 months in prison with credit for time served, Dippolito’s attorney argued for mercy for his client, claiming detectives in the case railroaded Dippolito by playing to the cameras for the “Cops” episode.
The request would have meant that Dippolito would serve just 24 months in state prison, plus jail credit for 163 days, followed by eight years of probation with restitution.
A wistful Dalia Dippolito listens to her attorney read a letter from her mother during her sentencing, Friday, July 21, 2017
Judge Kelly sentenced Dippolito to serve 16 years in a state prison, with credit for 150 days already served. She did not receive credit for the last eight years she spent on house arrest.
In the end Friday, the judge decided a lengthy prison term was appropriate. Kelley also chose not to repeat or exceed the original 20-year sentence Dippolito received from another judge following her first trial conviction in 2011.
Outside the courtroom, State Attorney Dave Aronberg said he respected Kelley’s decision and praised the work of his assistants in obtaining justice for victim Michael Dippolito.
“Hopefully, this chapter is now closed,” he said.
Rosenfeld said Friday’s outcome was “obviously very tough” but vowed, “We’re going to keep fighting for Dalia.”
What’s next? Another appeal and a bid for a fourth trial.
If there is one, Kelley said Friday he’s out.
“I’ve tried this case twice,” he said. “If there’s another trial it won’t be me sitting here.”
A big question is whether Kelley will allow Dippolito to return to house arrest while her appeal is pending for perhaps two to three years.
In 2011, Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath allowed her family to post a $500,000 appellate bond that enabled her to stay confined in her mother’s home while wearing a GPS ankle monitor. The bond was lowered to $25,000 in 2014 after she was awarded a new trial.
Dippolito has been declared indigent by the court; her attorneys have been working for her for free.
Judge Kelley said he will schedule a hearing on the appellate bond issue after he receives a formal request from her attorneys.