More than three quarters of a pool of 96 prospective jurors for Dalia Dippolito’s retrial have already heard about her caught-on-camera alleged murder for hire plot.
The dozens of hands that went up Friday when Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley asked who heard about the case will undoubtedly bolster a last-minute request from the former Boynton Beach newlywed’s defense team to pick jurors from outside Palm Beach County.
The request, which Kelley has yet to decide, comes on the second day of jury selection in what has become Palm Beach County’s most widely publicized recent case aside from the two DUI manslaughter trials of former Wellington polo club founder John Goodman.
In Dippolito’s case, about half of a pool of 100 initial jurors questioned Thursday had already heard about the case.
Defense attorney Brian Claypool after court appeared untroubled by those numbers. But Friday morning, he said that after having a chance to sleep on it and talk to Dippolito, he was now concerned and wanted to move the case out of Palm Beach County.
Those fears shave culminated so far with a request for a change of venue before jurors were brought in this morning, and a more recent request from defense attorney Greg Rosenfeld to throw out the entire panel after hearing how many had heard of the case.
Kelley has rebuffed both requests so far, but after his last denial, he commented on the number of prospective jurors who had hear about the case.
“I’ll comment parenthetically that it’s disconcerting, but…” Kelley said with a slight shrug, his voice training off.
On Thursday, most jurors who had heard about the case were dismissed after Kelley questioned them individually and learned they had heard information both the judge and attorneys on both sides have agreed should be kept from jurors.
That includes the fact that Dippolito was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison before the case was overturned on appeal, that Dippolito was working as an escort when she met her now ex-husband Michael and that the 2009 Boynton Beach case was featured on an episode of the television show COPS.
Dippolito, 34, is charged with asking an undercover police officer posing as a hitman to kill her then-husband in 2009.
Dippolito’s 2011 conviction and 20-year prison sentence in the case was overturned on appeal because Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath should have questioned jurors individually instead of as a group about what they knew about the case.