WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Dalia Dippolito sat in a Palm Beach County courtroom Thursday and listened as her ex-husband testified against her in her third murder-for-hire trial.
Opening statements began Thursday after prosecutors and defense attorneys spent four days vetting hundreds of potential jurors about their knowledge of the Boynton Beach woman accused of hiring an undercover police officer to kill her husband.
Dippolito, 34, is accused of paying an undercover police officer, who was posing as a hit man, to kill her husband in 2009.
Assistant state attorney Craig Williams tried to set the scene for Dippolito's alleged murder-for-hire plot by reading text messages between Dippolito and her lover to the jury. Williams said Dippolito was "plotting the destruction and the murder of her husband" in those messages.
Williams said the jury would hear Dippolito, in her own words, tell the undercover officer that she was "5,000 percent sure" she wanted her then-husband dead.
"She is absolutely, overwhelmingly guilty," Williams said.
When it came time for defense attorney Brian Claypool to speak, he began by pulling a nickel out of his pocket to illustrate that there are two sides to every story.
Claypool claimed that the Boynton Beach Police Department wanted to gain attention by soliciting the "Cops" television show and set her up with the help of former lover Mohamed Shihadeh, who was tricked into becoming a confidential informant for the police.
The Boynton Beach Police Department staged a crime scene and recorded her reaction on the day her husband was supposed to be killed.
Claypool said that police were quick to post the video on YouTube and were "determined to make it happen at all costs, even if it involved the destruction of evidence."
Dippolito was convicted of solicitation to commit first-degree murder in 2011 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed the conviction in 2014.
Her second trial last year ended in a mistrial with the jury deadlocked 3-3.
Prosecutors alleged in Dippolito's previous trials that she offered an undercover officer $7,000 to kill her then-husband.
Her former attorney argued in the 2011 trial that Dippolito thought she was being recorded as part of a hoax to get her husband on a reality TV show. She was found guilty, but the verdict was thrown out because of a mistake during jury selection.
The state called Dippolito's ex-husband, Mike Dippolito, as its first witness. He testified that he and his new bride met in 2009, while he was still serving probation.
"We got along really well," he testified. "We had fun together. We did a lot of things. She got me to do things I wouldn't do."
Assistant state attorney Laura Laurie asked if Dalia Dippolito's arrest on a charge of solicitation to commit first-degree murder shock him.
"Yes," he said.
Mike Dippolito claimed that she stole more than $100,000 in restitution money from him and tried to get him arrested. The felon testified that his former wife convinced him to give her the money so that she could help him get off probation. He said he never saw the money again.
Claypool asked Mike Dippolito during cross-examination if he thought Dalia Dippolito stole the restitution money.
"I know she did," he answered.
Throughout his testimony, Mike Dippolito avoided making eye contact with his ex-wife, looking her way only once when asked to identify her in the courtroom.
Mike Dippolito testified in the first trial but did not during last year's trial.