Attorneys for Dalia Dippolito question informant in murder-for-hire plot

Boynton Beach woman accused of hiring undercover police officer to kill husband

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor , Carlos Suarez - Anchor/Reporter

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A hearing was held Tuesday afternoon in the retrial of a Boynton Beach woman who was found guilty of hiring an undercover police officer to kill her husband.

Miami-based attorney Mark Eiglarsh and California-based attorney Brian Claypool, who are representing Dalia Dippolito in her retrial, questioned her former lover, Mohamed Shihadeh, for a little more than an hour in open court. Shihadeh was the informant who arranged Dippolito's meeting with the undercover officer.

A motion filed late last year alleges misconduct by the Boynton Beach Police Department in the August 2009 investigation that led to Dippolito's arrest.

Her attorneys claim they have evidence of police misconduct, including coercing the undercover informant, falsifying police reports, destroying records and enticing Dippolito.

Shihadeh insists he never wanted to be a part of the case against Dippolito after first coming forward to police about the alleged plot. 

Defense attorneys said he felt threatened by Boynton Beach police and felt that if he didn't cooperate, he would be responsible should something happen to Dippolito's husband.

"The testimony today of the undercover informant established that he was pressured, coerced, intimidated and threatened to be prosecuted unless he continued in this investigation," Claypool said outside the courthouse after Tuesday's hearing.

Defense attorneys claim that police did not turn over recordings of a meeting in which Dippolito said she wanted out of the plot.

The motion alleges that the incriminating evidence police claimed to have obtained during their investigation "was all fruit of the poisonous tree that was tainted by the department's reprehensible and egregious behavior."

Dippolito was convicted of solicitation to commit first-degree murder in 2011, but the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed the conviction in 2014. Her retrial is set for May 23.

Police said Dippolito hired an undercover officer, who was posing as a hit man, to kill her husband. Police then staged a crime scene and recorded her reaction on the day the murder was supposed to take place.

Jurors during the trial were shown an undercover video in which Dippolito offered the undercover officer $3,000 to kill her husband.

In its opinion, the appellate court deemed that the trial court erred by denying her request to individually question prospective jurors about their exposure to pretrial publicity about her case and denying her request to strike the entire jury pool after all the jurors heard an allegation that Dippolito had attempted to poison her husband.

Dippolito's then-attorney, Michael Salnick, argued during her trial that his client thought she was being recorded as part of a hoax to get her husband on a reality television show.

Dippolito will testify next month, at which point a Palm Beach County judge will decide if the charges should be thrown out.

The 32-year-old was previously sentenced to 20 years in prison. She has been out of jail on house arrest.

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