UPDATE 2:20 p.m.: Reports that an avid Dippolito court watcher had lunch with a potential jurors last week and that there was juror chatter about Dippolito on the first day of jury selection became the newest allegations that threaten to derail jury selection for Dippolito’s case.
Just before the lunch break, Dippolito’s defense team reported that a friend of Dippolito, seated in the court gallery, overheard a female prospective juror telling two others “we got her” – presumably about Dippolito.
Defense attorney Greg Rosenfeld said the same juror who allegedly made the comment was observed having lunch at the courthouse last week with an unidentified man who has attended as an observer a number of pretrial hearings in Dippolito’s case.
After the break, as Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley questioned those who were involved in the allegations surrounding the comment, one female prospective juror denied making or hearing the comment, but added that there was buzz in the juror pool on the first day of jury selection about Dippolito.
Though she didn’t recall having heard specifics about the case, the reference was enough for Rosenfeld and defense attorney Brian Claypool to renew their request to strike the jury panel and pick jurors from another area.
“I mean, this is terrifying,’ Rosenfeld said. “Everybody knows about this case, she is never going to get a fair trial in Palm Beach county, this is a perfect example. Her constitutional rights are being eviscerated here.”
Kelley did not grant the motion but didn’t deny it either, betraying what until now has been his biggest hint that he may consider scrapping the panel.
“I don’t think it’s time to pull the plug here,” Kelley said, however.
ORIGINAL POST: Calling her case “a poster child case” for why criminal trials should be moved out of the area in high-publicity cases, Dalia Dippolito’s attorneys tried unsuccessfully Monday to get a judge to move her case out of Palm Beach County.
The formal request comes on the third day of jury selection in what will be the second trial in the 2009 case surrounding Dippolito’s caught-on-camera alleged plot to have her husband Michael killed.
While more than five dozen prospective jurors remaining out of an initial 200 waited downstairs, defense attorney Brian Claypool told Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley their case has been “decimated” by the amount of publicity in the case.
“I’m pretty confident that we’re not going to get a fair and impartial jury,” Claypool said, later adding:”The continuity of the publicity has gotten worse.”
Assistant State Attorney Laura Burkhart Laurie said Claypool himself is to blame for the increased media attention, citing after-court press conferences and an appearance last week on HLN.
“He just tweeted two hours ago about this case,” Laurie said.
Claypool said that his tweets have been procedural about the case and added he felt that the community had a right to know.
Kelley said he didn’t want to assign blame to anyone for the publicity, saying “it is what it is.”
“Much of it has been inflammatory. I have to concede that,” Kelley said of the case.
Still, he decided to keep trying to select a jury from the pool of 66 prospective that remain. If attempts to pick from that pool fail, Kelley said, then he will reconsider.