WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Boynton Beach woman who was found guilty of hiring an undercover police officer to kill her husband has been granted a new trial.
Dalia Dippolito was convicted of solicitation to commit first-degree murder in 2011, but the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed the conviction.
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 was arrested in August 2009 after she hired an undercover police officer who was posing as a hit man to kill her husband, Michael Dippolito. 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 of Dalia Dippolito offering an undercover officer pretending to be a hit man $3,000 to kill her husband.
Her attorney, Michael Salnick, argued that she thought she was being recorded as part of a hoax to get her husband on a reality television show.
Prosecutors argued that any error during trial was harmless in light of the video evidence.
But the appellate court determined that potential jurors should have been questioned individually "once it became apparent that a multitude" of them "had been exposed to pretrial publicity."
"I'm extremely disappointed," former prosecutor Elizabeth Parker told Local10.com in an exclusive interview. "This is a case in which the evidence was overwhelming. ... The judges made their decision. We obviously have to respect that decision."
Parker now works as a defense attorney in West Palm Beach and penned a novel about the case -- "Poison Candy: The Murderous Madam: Inside Dalia Dippolito's Plot to Kill" -- that was released in February.
"It's unfortunate that Mike Dippolito will have to live with this nightmare and won't get the closure that he deserves," Parker said.
Dippolito, 30, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. She has been out of jail on house arrest pending the appeal.27225970
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