Boca Raton nanny killer Jerry Wiggins dies in prison

The man serving a life sentence for a slew of crimes that included the 2004 rape and murder of a 26-year-old woman died in prison just before the Christmas holiday, prison records confirm.

Jerry Lee Wiggins, 40, was on Friday listed as deceased in the Florida Department of Corrections website. The site does not list a date of death, nor the circumstances of his death.

Jerry Lee Wiggins
Jerry Lee Wiggins

He is listed on the site as a “released” inmate, and the release date listed is Dec. 20.

Wiggins was convicted in October 2014 for the 2004 rape and murder of 26-year-old nanny Monica Rivera Valdizan. He was also serving a 15-year sentence for the 2003 rape of a Broward County girl and a total 90 years – 50 years for attempted murder and 40 years for armed burglary – for a 2003 home invasion robbery.

His attorneys in each trial argued that, with a severely low IQ and documented mental illnesses, that he was mentally unfit to stand trial.

A psychologist found Wiggins “marginally competent” during the nanny murder trial.

Teen who killed man over cell phone gets 50 years prison

Deundre Davis

Deaundre Davis, the 18-year-old man a jury in January convicted of killing a man after an argument over a cell phone, was sentenced Friday to 50 years in prison.

Circuit Judge Charles Burton’s sentence for Davis comes a year after the July 2015 murder of 27-year-old Anthony Marcel Jones Jr., whose body was found outside an abandoned house in the Kennedy Estates area just outside the town of Jupiter.

Witnesses at Davis’ trial testified that Davis, then 17, shot Jones because he wanted the $80 another man agreed to pay for the return of his iPhone.

Assistant State Attorney Reid Scott successfully urged jurors to convict Davis despite the fact that a big part of the case rested on the eyewitness testimony of a longtime drug addict who admitted he was high when he saw the shooting happen.

Jurors convicted Davis of one count each of first degree murder, armed robbery and armed aggravated assault. Assistant Public Defender Scott Pribble had asked Burton to forgo the mandatory minimum sentences of 25 and 20 years respectively on the robbery and assault charges, but Burton on Thursday denied the request.

He sentenced Davis to 50 years on the murder charge, 40 for the robbery and 20 for the assault, ordering all counts to run together.

Jones’ family last year said the 27-year-old, who’d had 10 arrest and had just finished a 110-day jail stint before his murder, struggled to overcome drug addiction but desperately wanted to get out of a life on the streets.

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.

 

“American Greed” to feature Wellington pill mill bosses Jeff, Chris George

Jeff George (right) sits in court with his attorney, David Roth, Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 2, 2015 during his sentencing in the death of Joseph Joey Bartolucci on charges related to his operation of a pain clinic. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Jeff George (right) sits in court with his attorney, David Roth, Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 2, 2015 during his sentencing in the death of Joseph Joey Bartolucci on charges related to his operation of a pain clinic. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

A story on the rise and fall of Wellington twin pill mill kingpins Jeff and Chris George will air on CNBC’s “American Greed” Thursday, according to the show’s producers.

The episode will air at 10 p.m. Eastern time.

Until their arrests more than five years ago, investigators say the brothers amassed a $40 million pill mill empire that was once the largest operation of its kind in the nation.

State and federal authorities took down the operation with sweeping indictments against the brothers and dozens of others in their operation, including childhood friend, their mother and their wives.

Chris George is serving a 14-year federal prison sentence. A judge sentenced Jeff George last year to the maximum 20-year sentence which was part of a plea agreement in exchange for his testimony against his co-defendants in a case involving the death of patient Joey Bartolucci.

Dalia Dippolito, lawyer to have day of reckoning with judge

Dalia Dippolito testifies in a pretrial hearing Tuesday, February 23, 2016. 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 testifies in a pretrial hearing Tuesday, February 23, 2016. 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. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

If all goes well for Dalia Dippolito Tuesday, the former Boynton Beach newlywed once convicted of trying to have her husband killed will escape a return trip to jail and keep the lead defense attorney going into her May retrial.

If not, the 33-year-old could be headed back to jail on accusations that she violated her house arrest by traveling to Miami late last year for an exclusive interview with ABC’s 20/20. And Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley could revoke the special permission he gave California attorney Brian Claypool to work on Dippolito’s case because Claypool told reporters last month that the judge would be giving in to community pressure and sensationalism if he rejected Dippolito’s recent quest to have her case thrown out.

“Mr. Claypool’s comments at the February 23, 2016 press conference violate Bar Rule 4-8.2(a) by making a statement concerning the integrity of the Court that he knows to be false, or that was made with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity,” Kelley wrote earlier this month in an order for Claypool to appear in court.

Kelley, who ultimately denied Dippolito’s motion to have her charges dismissed, included as a footnote in his memo against Claypool that Dippolito also violated the rules of house arrest when she traveled to the offices of her Miami attorney Mark Eiglarsh for the December interview with ABC.

Prosecutors seized on that and just days later asked Kelley to either raise Dippolito’s bail or send her back to jail. Echoing Kelley’s words, Assistant State Attorney Craig Williams wrote on March 7 that Dippolito was allowed to travel to Miami only for the purposes of meeting with her lawyers to prepare for her retrial – not for an interview.

Williams has asked Kelley to either send Dippolito back to jail or raise her bail.

Kelley has called Dippolito, her legal team and prosecutors in for a 4 p.m. hearing Tuesday to decide both issues in what has become just the latest twist in the case that made international headlines when a YouTube video showing Dippolito crying at what turned out to be a staged crime scene went viral.

Claypool over the weekend announced plans to mount a vigorous defense to keep himself on the case, saying he’d already consulted with local defense attorneys Richard Lubin and Scott Richardson on the matter but will represent himself in an attempt to keep the judge from taking him off the case.

The statements he made were in no way intended to disparage Kelley, Claypool has said, calling the matter “an unfortunate incident.” In paperwork filed Sunday, Claypool quoted other comments he’d made about the judge in the same press conference.

“I think he is a fair judge. I think what he is trying to do is give leeway to both sides and let everything in so he can make an informed decision,” Claypool said a month ago.

The statements came after a hearing that marked Dippolito’s first time ever testifying in court since her 2009 arrest.

Her 2011 trial ended with a conviction after a jury rejected her defense that she and her husband Michael conspired together to hire an undercover Boynton Beach detective posing as a hitman to kill Michael as a ploy for a reality television show.

In the time since an appellate court overturned that conviction and 20-year sentence, Dippolito has said that she was just following the orders of Mohammed Shihadeh, the former lover who turned her in to police and sparked the undercover investigation.

She said she, her husband and Shihadeh were all working together to create an acting showcase that they hoped to parlay into more acting work, but when she tried to back out of the plot Shihadeh threatened to hurt her and her family.

— Daphne Duret, staff writer

 

Dalia Dippolito lawyers to judge: give us more hearing time

Prosecutor Craig Williams questions Dalia Dippolito as she testifies in a pretrial hearing Tuesday, February 23, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Attorneys for the former Boynton Beach woman caught on camera trying to arrange for a hitman to kill her husband are accusing a judge in her case of violating her constitutional rights by not giving them more time to convince him to throw out her case.

Dalia Dippolito’s retrial on murder solicitation charges is expected to begin in May, but that’s only if Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley rejects requests from Dippolito’s lawyers to have her charges thrown out on claims of police misconduct.

Dippolito, who testified in court for the first time since her 2009 arrest in a hearing last week, said the murder-for-hire plot was actually part of an acting project for her, her now ex-husband Michael Dippolito, and her boyfriend-turned-police-informant Mohamed Shihadeh.

On the witness stand, Dippolito said she tried to back out of the allegedly scripted plot, but Shihadeh threatened to harm her if she did, saying that he was being pressured by Boynton Beach Police officials desperate to parlay the plot into a riveting episode of the reality television show COPS.

In paperwork filed with Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley Monday, Dippolito attorney Brian Claypool said he wanted to call two more witnesses to testify to Kelley before the judge makes his decision, adding that it was unfair to Dippolito that Kelley ordered both attorneys to expedite their final arguments at the end of last week’s hearing because of a mandate to shut down local courts at 5:30 p.m. to curtail clerks’ overtime.

“The courthouse regulations should not trump Ms. Dippolito’s constitutional rights,” Claypool wrote.

Dippolito’s lawyers had asked for the extra hearing time last week, but Kelley quickly denied the request.

Among the extra witnesses that Claypool and Dippolito’s legal team would like to question is former Boynton Beach Police Sgt. Paul Sheridan, who Dippolito says tricked her into signing a release to appear on COPS and later falsified a police report about it.

Police officials have said there was an internal investigation on the matter, but have never provided Dippolito’s defense team with any documents related to it. Prosecutors say they don’t know the outcome of the investigation, and current Boynton Beach Police Chief Jeffrey Katz testified last week that he doesn’t know what came of it either.

Dippolito’s attorys want to ask Sheridan about it directly and also present testimony for a law enforcement procedures and policies experts, all in hopes of convincing Kelley that police officials committed misconduct so egregious that Dippolito’s charges should be dismissed.

In 2011, a jury convicted Dippolito of solicitation to commit first degree murder, and Chief Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath, calling her “pure evil,” sentenced her to 20 years in prison. An appellate court overturned her conviction after the judges ruled that Colbath should have questioned prospective jurors individually about their exposure to media attention in the case surrounding a YouTube video at a staged crime scene that went viral.