Dalia Dippolito: Florida Supreme Court won’t hear appeal

Dalia Dippolito in court Tuesday, February 23, 2016 during a pretrial hearing. The 33-year-old Dippolito is facing a May retrial on 2009 charges that she tried to hire a hit man to kill her husband, convicted conman Michael Dippolito. She has pleaded not guilty. Dalia Dippolito is expected to testify that a former lover threatened her with a gun and pressured her to speak to the hit man who was actually an undercover police officer. The case gained national notoriety because "Cops" happened to be filming with the Boynton Beach police. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Dalia Dippolito in court Tuesday, February 23, 2016 during a pretrial hearing. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Florida’s Supreme Court on Tuesday denied former Boynton Beach newlywed Dalia Dippolito’s appeal of her murder solicitation case, clearing the way for a December retrial on charges that she tried to hire a hitman to kill her new husband.

The move comes a month after Dippolito’s lawyers, fresh from a rejection from Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal, asked the high court to dismiss Dippolito’s case based on claims that Boynton Beach Police officials engaged in “reprehensible” and unethical behavior to build a case against Dippolito.

Attorneys Brian Claypool and Andrew Greenly claimed officers coerced Dippolito’s sometime lover into threatening her to move forward with the 2009  plot against Michael Dippolito because it would make for a good episode of the reality TV show COPS.

A Florida Supreme Court clerk signed a single-page order dismissing Dippolito’s appeal Tuesday as “successive” but offered no further explanation.

Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley recently set Dippolito’s retrial for Dec. 5 and said he would postpone it if the Florida Supreme Court had agreed to hear her case.

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, clearing the way for a new trial.

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

Dalia Dippolito retrial set for December despite possible appeal

Dalia Dippolito in court Tuesday, February 23, 2016 during a pretrial hearing. The 33-year-old Dippolito is facing a May retrial on 2009 charges that she tried to hire a hit man to kill her husband, convicted conman Michael Dippolito. She has pleaded not guilty. Dalia Dippolito is expected to testify that a former lover threatened her with a gun and pressured her to speak to the hit man who was actually an undercover police officer. The case gained national notoriety because "Cops" happened to be filming with the Boynton Beach police.     (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Dalia Dippolito in court Tuesday, February 23, 2016 during a pretrial hearing. The 33-year-old Dippolito is facing a May retrial on 2009 charges that she tried to hire a hit man to kill her husband, convicted conman Michael Dippolito. She has pleaded not guilty. Dalia Dippolito is expected to testify that a former lover threatened her with a gun and pressured her to speak to the hit man who was actually an undercover police officer. The case gained national notoriety because “Cops” happened to be filming with the Boynton Beach police. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

The upcoming holiday season could mark the start of a retrial for Dalia Dippolito, the one-time Boynton Beach newlywed caught on camera in an alleged plot to hire a hitman to kill her husband.

Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley in a four-minute hearing Monday set a Dec. 1 retrial date for Dippolito, who was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison on a solicitation to commit murder charge before her case was overturned on appeal.

Since then, Dippolito and her legal team have been trying to get her case thrown out altogether, arguing primarily that police forced her former lover into helping them in an undercover investigation where they entrapped the 33-year-old to make a good episode of the television show COPS.

Kelley himself rejected Dippolito’s request earlier this year, and an appellate court recently refused to hear an appeal of that ruling.

Three weeks ago, Dippolito’s lawyers took the case to Florida’s Supreme Court, claiming the actions of police were so “reprehensible” that they violated Dippolito’s constitutional right to due process.

As of Monday, the high court had not decided whether they would consider the matter.

Kelley told Assistant State Attorney Craig Williams and defense attorney Mark Eiglarsh that he would set the trial for December and postpone if necessary.

In hearings on her casse earlier this year, Dippolito said she, her now ex-husband Michael Dippolito, and her former lover Mohamed Shihedeh all conspired to fabricate a plot to kill her husband in the hopes that it would land them all acting jobs.

Teen resentenced in 2007 robbery, murder near Boynton Beach

Linwood Lewis, 26, speaks to a member of his defense team at his resentencing hearing on Monday, July 18, 2016
Linwood Lewis, 26, speaks to a member of his defense team at his resentencing hearing on Monday, July 18, 2016

A man who once sentenced to life in prison for participating in a deadly robbery when he was 17 will be resentenced Monday.

Circuit Judge Edward Garrison will hand down the new sentence Monday for Linwood Lewis at the end of a two-hour resentencing hearing that began at 1 p.m. and is still underway. Assistant Public Defender Jennifer Marshall told the judge that Lewis’ rejection of a 10-year plea offer in the case was a sign that he was not mature enough to understand the gravity of his actions and was therefore undeserving of a life sentence.

Lewis was 17 and Leotis Lester was 17 when they participated in a robbery where another man shot and killed Marc Thibault, 43, in 2007 at his home in Nautica South near Boynton Beach.

Assistant State Attorney Andrew Slater objected to the judge considering the 10-year plea offer in considering his sentence.

Lewis, known to his relatives as Woody, received a new sentencing hearing because of a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring it’s unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life without parole. Citing studies that juveniles’ brains aren’t fully developed, leading them to make impetuous decisions without considering the consequences, the high court ruled that juveniles have to be given a chance to show they have been rehabilitated.

In response, Florida lawmakers passed a law permitting a life sentence for a juvenile if a judge deems such a sentence is appropriate.

 

Fight begins over whether local judge seat should be elected or appointed

Gregg Lerman
Gregg Lerman

A local defense attorney on Tuesday made official what is shaping up to be a Florida Supreme Court fight over whether Florida Gov. Rick Scott has the power to appoint someone to a judicial seat some believe should be up for a public vote in the August election.

Gregg Lerman has filed suit filed against Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner for starting the judicial vacancy appointment process for County Judge Laura Johnson’s seat, which she resigned to run for a circuit judge seat.

Lerman, and County Magistrate Thomas Baker have since filed paperwork to run for Johnson’s seat, and Palm Beach County Supervisior of Elections Susan Bucher has recognized the position as elected. Detzner later sent Bucher a letter telling her not to accept the candidates’ papwerwork to qualify for the position because Scott has already started the customary process of accepting applications to appoint Johnson’s replacement.

Thomas BakerBut Lerman and others say Scott doesn’t have that right by law, saying Johnson’s April 18 resignation letter complied with a state statute requiring some elected officials to resign their current positions to run for another. It is that law, according to Lerman’s attorney Len Feuer, that makes Johnson’s seat and elected position and not subject to a governor’s usual right to fill judicial vacancies due to resignation and retirement.

“The public’s right to choose who should fill the seat in Group 11 through an election should not be abridged by the Governor’s attempt to fill the same position through an appointment,” Feuer wrote.

Lerman is asking that the high court compel Scott and Detzner to provide legal reason to show by what authority Scott feels he has the power to appoint Johnson’s replacement.

Dennis DeMartin ordered back to Florida for new sentencing hearing

(Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
(Palm Beach Post staff file photo)

Dennis DeMartin, the juror once jailed for a series of missteps that led a judge to overturn John Goodman’s first DUI manslaughter conviction, will have to return to Florida if he has any hopes of reducing what’s left of a 6-month jail sentence hanging over his head.

While a potential Florida Supreme Court fight looms over whether Chief Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath’s five month, 29-day contempt of court sentence against DeMartin is justified, attorneys for the 72-year-old retired Delray Beach accountant have asked the judge to reduce his sentence to the 37 days he already served at the Palm Beach County jail between January and March of 2014.

Assistant Public Defender Paul Petillo on Thursday filed paperwork asking for a reduced sentence for DeMartin, who landed in legal trouble after Goodman’s 2012 trial when he revealed he conducted a forbidden drinking experiment as a juror and later revealed he failed as a prospective juror to disclose that his ex-wife had once been arrested for DUI.

As a result, Colbath in 2013 overturned Goodman’s DUI manslaughter conviction and 16-year prison sentence in the Feb. 12, 2010 death of 23-year-old Scott Patrick Wilson. Another jury, selected from Tampa, convicted the polo club founder again in 2014 and he is now serving the 16-year sentence.

DeMartin as a result of the time he’s already spent in jail lost his  social security benefits temporarily, which caused him to lose his Delray Beach condo, Petillo said,. He now lives in a government subsidized apartment in Connecticut, but could lose that as well if Colbath sentences him to more prison time.

In a brief hearing Friday morning, Colbath told attorneys in the case that he will consider reducing DeMartin’s sentence and any other matters still up for discussion in the case, but DeMartin must return to Florida for a hearing he’s scheduled for June 3.

According to Petillo’s petition, DeMartin suffers from heart disease, is nearly blind, has short-term memory loss and is taking nearly a dozen medications that includes one used to trat Alzheimer’s patients. He pays $630 in rent a month and otherwise lives on $1,223 a month in social security, a $175 monthly annuity that will end when he is 75 and $37 a month in food stamps, Petillo said.

“He is poor by just about any standard, but with HUD-subsidized housing he is able to get by,” Petillo wrote. “If he temporarily loses his Social Security benefit, he will lose his apartment. If he can’t live with relatives, he will be homeless.”

Donna Horwitz will be tried again for ex-husband’s murder, Florida Supreme Court rules

Jupiter resident Donna Horwitz on Thursday won a new trial for the 2011 murder of her ex-husband when the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a Palm Beach County jury shouldn’t have been told she refused to talk to investigators.

156034
Donna Horwitz (Florida Department of Corrections)

In upholding a decision by the 4th District Court of Appeal, the high court ruled that prosecutors improperly used Horwitz’s constitutional right to remain silent against her.

» RELATED: Read the Florida Supreme Court’s decision

“The state repeatedly emphasized Horwitz’s silence and repeatedly argued that her silence was ‘evidence of consciousness of guilt,'” Justice Barbara Pariente wrote in the court’s unanimous decision. “This use of Horwitz’s silence violated her state constitutional privilege against self-incrimination.”

The case that involved such a basic constitutional principle as the right against self-incrimination landed at the high court because the West Palm Beach-based appeals court decision that overturned her conviction was not unanimous.

Appeals Court Judge Mark Klingensmith disagreed with the other judges, citing a U.S. Supreme Court case he believed made testimony about Horwitz’s silence admissible. The appellate judges referred the matter to Florida’s Supreme Court for a more definitive ruling.

Horwitz, 69, is serving a life sentence. She was convicted by a Palm Beach County jury in 2013 of shooting her former husband Lanny Horwitz, 66, in the multi-million-dollar home they shared in the Admiral’s Cove community along the Intracoastal Waterway.

The two lived together even though they were divorced. The couple had been married for 30 years, divorced, remarried and divorced again.

During Horwitz’s trial, her attorneys argued that the couple’s son, Radley Horwitz, or a hit man hired by him could have been the killer.

Lanny Horwitz’s sister, Marcia Van Creveld, told The Post last year that Donna Horwitz’s conviction had given them closure, and they were shocked that she could possibly win a new trial.

“I just want justice for my brother Lanny,” she said.

 

Retrial set for May in 2004 West Palm murder case

Mark Barrow
Mark Barrow

A retrial is expected to begin in late May in the case of a man accused of murdering a young woman who lived in his trailer part in a 2004 case where the victim’s body was never found.

Mark Barrow, now 55, was convicted in 2007 of the murder three years earlier of

An appellate court in 2010 overturned Barrow’s conviction and Florida’s Supreme Court upheld that decision two years later. Both higher courts ruled that former

A retrial in the case was scheduled to begin this week, but according to court records, Circuit Judge Krista Marx set a new trial date for May 23.

Barrow and Ternier lived in the same trailer park on Drexel Road. At his first trial, a former girlfriend testified that he’d made a drunken confession to her implicating himself in Tener’s death. Prosecutors also said drops of Tener’s blood were found in Barrow’s van.

Barrow, through his attorney Fred Susaneck, has said he is wrongly imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit.