Supreme Court refuses Dippolito appeal, setting stage for second trial

The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to hear a request from Dalia Dippolito to throw out charges against her in a foiled plot to kill her husband, setting the stage for a scheduled December retrial for the former Boynton Beach newlywed.

Dippoplito, 33, has tried since earlier this year to convince judges that there would be no case against her if Boynton Beach police officials hadn’t coerced her former lover to help with the undercover investigation and commit other acts Dippolito claims amount to entrapment. A circuit judge denied her dismissal request earlier this year and she appealed to the high court in August after Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal rejected her petition without a hearing.

Tuesday’s ruling means Dec. 1 will likely mark the start of jury selection in what will be the second trial for the woman whose 2009 arrest brought with it the release of a viral video of her crying at what turned out to be a staged crime scene after she hired an undercover detective posing as a hitman to kill her husband, Michael.

A one-page order from the Supreme Court offered no explanation for the ruling other than to point out that it followed the matter that the appellate court had already denied. With the likelihood of a trial just six weeks away, Dippolito’s legal team of Brian Claypool, Mark Eiglarsh and Greg Rosenfeld nonetheless appear set to make the alleged misconduct by Boynton police a centerpiece of Dippolito’s defense.

Claypool on Tuesday said he respected the high court’s decision and thanked them for considering whether to hear the matter, but said the rulings over the past several months left many unanswered questions.

“We never received a detailed analysis from them,” Claypool said of the appellate court. “So then for the Florida Supreme Court to say we’re trying to take a second bite at the apple, when we never got an explanation in the first place, where does that leave us?”

Dippolito’s former lover, Mohamed Shihadeh, testified in a hearing before Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley earlier this year that he initially went to the Boynton Beach police trying to help Dippolito after she claimed she was the victim of domestic violence, but instead became first a reluctant, then unwilling, participant in the undercover investigation where Dippolito in a recorded conversation told a detective she was “5,000 percent sure” she wanted her husband dead.

Dippolito’s attorneys in those series of hearings also questioned several officers and employees of the police department. Ultimately, they argued that officers pushed the case forward even after Dippoplito tried to back out of the plot because they knew it would make for a good episode of the reality television show COPS.

Boynton Beach police officials on Tuesday repeated their earlier rejection of Dippolito’s claims.

“We stand behind the principled work our detectives did on this investigation,” Boynton Beach police spokeswoman Stephanie Slater said in an emailed statement, adding: “We trust in our State Attorney to successfully prosecute this case, and we are confident we have given his office sufficient evidence to meet the State’s burden. “

Dippolito in 2011 was sentenced to 20 years in prison after a first jury convicted her of solicitation to commit first-degree murder. Her conviction was later overturned on appeal after the same appellate court that rejected her latest appeal found that Chief Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath should have questions jurors individually, instead of as a group, about their exposure to media publicity in the case that sparked international headlines.

Dippolito, 33, didn’t take the stand in her own defense in the first trial, but in the hearings earlier this year, she said for the first time claims that she, Michael Dippolito and lover Shihadeh all came together to fabricate the plot in hopes that the publicity would score them more acting jobs.

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