Friday, June 17, 2011
Dalia Dippolito Sentenced to 20 Years: Judge Calls Her “Pure Evil”
Dalia Dippolito —who was caught on camera two years ago promising to pay a hit man to kill her husband—was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in prison by Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath.
Click HERE to read back-story and see video
The trial lasted three weeks, but it took the jury only three hours to convict her back in May 2011. But clearly the most bizzare thing to come out of this trial was the attempted “reality-TV defense.”
During the trial defense attorneys argued that Mike Dippolito (Dalia's husband)was a fan of shows like the “Jersey Shore” and “Cheaters,” which led him to plan a fake murder-for-hire so he and his wife could get their own reality show. “It was a stunt that Michael Dippolito, whether he'll admit it or not, hoped to capture the attention of someone in reality TV,” Defense attorney Michael Salnick said. “Michael Dippolito’s hoax to achieve fame and fortune was a bad prank.” Dalia Dippolito expected her husband to tell investigators it was a hoax after she was arrested, defense lawyers said. But when Mr. Dippolito took the stand, he rejected the reality show idea. “It's ridiculous,” he said. “We are not here because of me.”
When that defense didn’t work, Salnick questioned how police went about their sting, noting that they invited along the TV show "COPS" to do the recordings. “If this is a real murder plot as they say it is…nobody went to warn [Mike Dippolito]? To tell him? Instead they go the morning of the day with 'COPS' in tow?” Salnick asked. Her defense was composed of three witnesses: her mother, a reality-TV expert, and a digital forensics expert. As captivating as the defense’s case was, alternate juror Sandra Clutter said she saw no smoking gun showing that Mike Dippolito devised the murder-for-hire plot in a play for reality-TV stardom. “It wasn't there,” Clutter said. “I saw the prosecution's evidence as being overwhelming. I had no doubt.” Meanwhile, Dalia made four attempts to kill her husband, including putting antifreeze into his tea.
As recently as April, before her murder-for-hire trial began, he saw things differently. Mr. Dippolito said he didn't want her to go to prison. What he did want was the money she stole paid back, their Boynton Beach house put back in his name, and the divorce finalized. But today Mr. Dippolito sang a different tune. Mr. Dippolito expressed his frustrations to judge Colbath regarding Dalia’s reality-TV-defense. “You should have said space aliens made you do it,” he said from the stand, looking directly at his pale wife in blue jail jumpsuit and waist chains.
“It would have been a better defense.” Then Mr. Dippolito went on a strange rant, venting his frustration about the approximately $191,000 in restitution he owes to victims of a telemarketing fraud he ran a decade ago. Until the money is paid, Michael Dippolito is still on probation. He says he gave Dalia the money while they were married—in a convoluted lending scenario–but she spent the dough. “I have about 14 victims who haven't been paid their restitution because of this. This girl doesn’t feel sorry for anything. I sat up here today and felt like I was getting shit on again.”
Prosecutor Elizabeth Parker asked Colbath to sentence Dalia to the maximum (30 years in prison). Defense attorney Michael Salnick acknowledged that she should serve some prison time followed by a long stint of probation.
Dalia wept as her mother, brother and sister asked for mercy. Her family described her as having been a shy, quiet girl who loved her family. Her younger sister pleaded to have her “role model” back.
Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath, however, pulled no punches in describing and sentencing Dalia Dippolito yesterday. “The clearest look into her soul,” he said, “came when police showed her pictures of her huddling with the undercover hit man she asked to kill her husband, and she still insisted she had done nothing wrong. She still thinks she has done nothing wrong.” Then the judge proclaimed that her plot to have her husband killed was "pure evil," and he scorned her for “taking advantage of a guy that was gullible. I haven’t heard an ounce of remorse. It was astonishing the cold-blooded denial that you’re willing to go to in order to avoid the obvious.”
Dalia stared back at him, hardly even blinking, as the judge sentenced her to 20 years in prison, minus the some 600 days she’s already served on house arrest.
After the sentencing Michael Dippolito said, “I’m just very glad it's over...I wish we were never here.” Then he riffed off his wife’s statement that she had made to the hit man, which was caught on tape (she’s “5,000 percent sure" she wanted her husband dead) saying, “…and as far as the sentencing, I’m five thousand percent happy with it.”
Salnick’s only comment after sentencing was there is sure to be an appeal. Speaking of the appeal, all of the testimony in the trial—of her trysts, her sexts, her murderous intent, police undercover videos and the surprise DUI arrest of the key witness in Boca Raton who supposedly was out of the country–will be looked at closely by her defense team.