Murder-for-hire trial to be heard by 4 women, 2 men

AP News
|
Posted: Dec 06, 2016 6:10 PM

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A Florida woman accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband will be tried before a jury of four women and two men, chosen over a four-day process that went twice as long as planned because of extensive TV coverage of the case.

Dalia Dippolito was arrested in 2009 in a case featured on the television show "Cops" and that garnered wide national and local media attention.

Prosecutors allege the 34-year-old defendant offered an undercover officer $7,000 to kill her then-husband. An appellate court threw out her 2011 conviction and 20-year-sentence because of a mistake during jury selection.

Opening statements are scheduled Wednesday in her retrial.

On Tuesday, Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley rejected several defense requests to move Dippolito's retrial out of Palm Beach County or bring in an out-of-county jury. Defense attorney Greg Rosenfeld had argued that "the risk is too great" that jurors exposed to media coverage won't be fair.

Kelley said he believes that the extensive questioning the jurors underwent about their knowledge of the case, their television viewing habits and numerous other topics weeded out those who could not be impartial.

The judge also pointed to several high-profile Florida trials that were held with local juries and deemed fair by appellate courts. Kelley and the attorneys screened 200 prospects to find the six jurors and two alternates.

Unlike most states that use 12-person juries, Florida uses six in all criminal cases except first-degree murder trials.

Dippolito is facing trial on charges that she tried to hire a hit man in 2009 to kill her then-husband Michael Dippolito. Prosecutors allege she wanted his $250,000 in savings and their $225,000 town house.

If convicted of solicitation to commit first-degree murder, she could be sentenced up to 20 years.

Dippolito has said previously that she was just acting and that she didn't really want her husband dead. She also has said police entrapped her because they wanted to impress "Cops" producers, who were in town by chance, and give them an unforgettable case that would gain national attention.

The trial is expected to last about a week.

___

Follow Terry Spencer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/terryspen. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/author/terry-spencer.