The high-profile murder-for-hire plot case of Dalia Dippolito is slated for a second jury trial before the end of the year, now that the Florida Supreme Court has refused to hear a request from defendant to toss out the charges.
In the matter of Dippolito v. Florida, justices gave no explanation for the denial, saying only it was denied upon review. A circuit judge had denied her dismissal request earlier this year. Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal rejected her request without even holding a hearing.
The bizarre case out of Boynton Beach has raised all sorts of issues about entrapment and whether the alleged plot was ever real to begin with. According to ABC News, Dippolito is accused of concocting a scheme to kill her former husband when they were just newlyweds. She reportedly, with the help of a friend, helped to hire a “hit man,” who was actually an undercover detective, to kill her husband.
Video footage exists of her telling the detective she is “5,000 percent sure” she wants her husband dead. Later, when police staged a scene of her husband’s alleged death, she is seen on camera sobbing. Prosecutors say it was all an act. The footage was later used for an episode of the reality crime show COPS.
Dippolito insists that’s not true. She has accused the police department of coercing her ex-boyfriend into assisting with the undercover investigation and engaging in entrapment. She said the the officers pushed her into moving forward with the plot, even after she tried to back out, because they knew it would make good reality television.
She was convicted in 2011 and sentenced to 20 years in prison for solicitation to commit first-degree murder. However, that conviction was overturned after the appellate court ruled the judge improperly questioned the jurors during voir dire together – rather than individually – about their media exposure to the case, which has been the subject of headlines internationally.
When the pair first met, the alleged victim was a “workout fanatic” and a self-employed marketer who dreamed of becoming a reality television star. In fact, this was a goal he and his new bride shared (the pair met while he was still married to another). Years earlier, he had served time in prison for swindling investors out of some $200,000.
Prosecutors say Dippolito’s motive was to kill her husband so she could keep his condo and his money while allowing her to date other men. She argues, however, that her husband and her ex-boyfriend all conspired the plot as a hoax to drum up attention to get them a lucrative reality television show contract.
Dippolito alleges the police entrapment. This is an affirmative defense that can be raised to excuse an act that may otherwise be unlawful. It occurs when police improperly induce someone into committing a crime he or she was not otherwise predisposed to commit.
In order to prove entrapment, defendant must show by a preponderance of the evidence the government induced him or her to commit an offense he or she would not have otherwise committed. The proof burden then shifts to prosecutors to show beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant was predisposed to commit the crime.
The subjective test for when entrapment is applicable is spelled out in F.S. 777.201.
An entrapment defense will apply only in a small number of cases, but it can be effective in those instances.
Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Supreme Court refuses Dippolito appeal, setting stage for second trial, Oct. 18, 2016, By Daphne Duret, The Palm Beach Post
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