WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.—Millions of people have seen a secretly recorded video of Dalia Dippolito telling an undercover police officer she was “5,000 percent sure” about hiring him to kill her husband.
At her retrial on Thursday, six Florida jurors who said they had never seen the 2009 video watched Dippolito tell Boynton Beach Detective Widy Jean that she would pay him $7,000 to kill Michael Dippolito in a staged robbery.
The 34-year-old Dippolito has testified at her previous trial and in court hearings that she was only acting the part of a murderous wife in hopes of getting her own reality TV show.
Her first jury didn’t buy that defense, but an appellate court threw out her 2011 conviction and 20-year sentence for attempted first-degree solicitation of murder. She faces the same sentence if convicted again.
These jurors sat expressionless as they watched the 23-minute video, which was central to a “Cops” television special and remains popular on YouTube.
It shows Dippolito, dressed in tank top and pony tail, entering Jean’s red convertible and discussing not only the cost of killing her convicted conman husband, but how, when and where it would be done.
“Are you sure you want to kill this dude?” Jean asks her.
Dippolito, seeming uncomfortable with the question, appears to urge Jean to be more circumspect.
“Do we really have to? I would rather be less, whatever, about the deal,” Dippolito tells Jean, swallowing laughter.
Narrating the video for the jury on Thursday, Jean testified that Dippolito opened up once he said she’s beautiful.
After these pleasantries, the video shows her agreeing to pay $7,000 for the murder—a $1,000 premium since she wouldn’t be able to pay in advance. He then tells her he’ll break into their house, put two bullets in her husband’s head and make it look like a robbery.
“I need it done, like, this week,” Dippolito says, assuring Jean she wouldn’t stiff him. “You obviously know where I am.”
Dippolito then tells Jean her husband would soon withdraw $10,000 from a bank, and suggests killing him there instead, taking the even-higher sum as payment.
“I don’t know if that’s too public for you,” she says.
No, Jean replies; the extra cash might be worth the risk.
“Just so you know, all of these here are tender points,” she adds, pointing to her lower back to show where her husband was recovering from liposuction surgery.
Jean testified that he tried to give Dippolito a way out by warning that she would not be able to change her mind later.
“No, there is no changing,” she replies. “There is no—I’m determined already. I’m positive, like 5,000 percent sure.”
The prosecution rested shortly after showing the video, and without bringing several other key figures, including Michael Dippolito and an undercover informant who initially told police about her alleged desire to kill him.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Brian Claypool, Jean conceded it was unusual that the department posted the video only minutes after Dalia Dippolito’s arrest, ahead of its appearance as part of a special episode on “Cops.”
Claypool told the jury in opening statements that Boynton Beach Police staged the case to become famous on “Cops,” whose producers were in town to prepare to for episodes with the department. Jean somewhat agreed with Claypool’s assessment that releasing the video so quickly could have compromised the investigation.
“It might,” he said, but if the case was closed with Dippolito’s arrest, it would be “a moot point.”
The defense began its case by calling Mohammed Shihadeh, Dippolito’s former lover who first contacted the police. He said she had told him her husband abused her and the only solution was for her to be dead or her husband to be killed.
Shihadeh said he wanted the police to help her, not arrest her, but detectives pressured him to be part of the undercover investigation and put her in touch with Jean. He said he didn’t think she was serious about having her husband killed.
“I didn’t think she had it in her,” Shihadeh told Dippolito attorney Brian Claypool.
“But you were wrong?” prosecutor Craig Williams asked under cross-examination.
“Yes,” he said.