BREAKING: Dalia Dippolito won’t seek change of venue, state will

Defense attorney Brian Claypool makes his opening statement to the jury on the first day of Dalia DippolitoÕs murder-for-hire retrial Wednesday, December 7, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)  POOL
Defense attorney Brian Claypool makes his opening statement to the jury on the first day of Dalia DippolitoÕs murder-for-hire retrial Wednesday, December 7, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post) POOL

Lawyers for Dalia Dippolito won’t be asking for a change of venue after all for what will be her third trial on charges that she tried to have her husband killed, but prosecutors will.

In a news release issued Tuesday, defense attorney Brian Claypool said the number of calls, emails and letters they’ve received from people in the community after Dippolito’s trial ended in a hung jury last month has encouraged them to abandon efforts they began in December to move the trial out of town.

“Judge [Glenn] Kelley did an exceptional job of vetting potentially biased jurors in the last trial to ensure that Ms.
Dippolito had the case heard before an unbiased cross section of Palm Beach County jurors,” Claypool said, adding that he and fellow defense attorney Greg Rosenfeld believe Kelley will do the same in a third trial expected to begin this spring. “Ms. Dippolito has faith in the people of Palm Beach County.”

Since that news release, according to Claypool, Assistant State Attorney Craig Williams sent an email to the judge saying that prosecutors themselves will be seeking to pick a jury from outside Palm Beach County. Claypool characterized the move as “ironic,” considering Williams and Assistant State Attorney Laura Burkhart Laurie fought to keep the case local before the second trial.

Reached by phone, Claypool Tuesday afternoon said prosecutors of “forum shopping” in hopes that jurors from cities like Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando will be more conservative than the prospective jury pool that included three panelists who ultimately accepted Dippolito’s police corruption defense.

“We did get a fair jury trial in Palm Beach County and guess what? They got hammered,” Claypool said of the prosecution. “This case should be over and done.”

Palm Beach State Attorney spokesman Mike Edmondson did not immediately return a call for comment Tuesday, but in the past he has said declined to comment on discussions among the attorneys in the case – including a phone conference last week where lawyers in the case failed to reach a plea agreement for Dippolito.

After those talks fell flat, Rosenfeld publicly criticized Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg for not personally participating in the plea negotiations and accused him of continuing the prosecution for political reasons.

Dippolito, 34, was arrested in October 2009 at the end of a Boynton Beach Police investigation where she was caught on camera hiring an undercover officer posing as a hitman to kill Michael Dippolito, who at the time was her husband of six months.

The Dippolitos divorced in 2011, shortly after Dalia Dippolito’s first trial ended with a conviction on murder solicitation charge. Chief Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath called her “pure evil” that year when he sentenced her to 20 years in prison, but by 2014 and appellate court had thrown out both her conviction and sentence.

Claypool and Rosenfeld during her second trial in December depicted Dippolito as a victim of corrupt Boynton Beach police officers who pressured her lover into making her carry out the plot to make for a good episode of the television show “Cops.”

After a day of deliberations in the second trial, jurors told Kelley they could not reach a unanimous verdict. A later poll revealed the six panelist were evenly split 3-3 on whether or not Dippolito was guilty.

Two alternate jurors also told local media outlets that they would have voted to acquit Dippolito.

Though the minimum recommended sentence for Dippolito if convicted is four years in prison, defense attorneys say plea offers in the case have not fallen below double digits. If a jury in Dippolito’s third trial convicts her, she faces a likely 20-year prison sentence.

Kelley last week denied a request from Dippolito to get off house arrest as she awaits her third trial, which could begin as early as this spring.

The judge said he will, however, consider relaxing some of the house arrest conditions. Claypool in December announced that Dippolito has given birth in the past year to a baby boy.

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