WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. The Fourth District Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial for Dalia Dippolito, the Boynton Beach woman who was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being found guilty in 2011 of a murder-for-hire plot. The decision stems from mistakes made during jury selection.
"She's elated by the fact she woke up this morning a convicted felon and by noon she's not," said her defense attorney Michael Grieco.
Police say they received a tip in 2009 that Dippolito was planning to kill her husband.
Investigators say she thought she was hiring a hitman to kill her husband. Instead, the hitman was really a Boynton Beach police officer. Police staged a fake crime scene at her home and videotaped her reaction.
According to the appeals court ruling, Dippolito argued that the trial court erred by denying exposure to pretrial publicity and by denying her request to strike the jury after all the prospective jurors heard an allegation that she had attempted to poison the victim.
Specifically one prospective juror mentioned "an allegation that (appellant) had tried to poison her husband with antifreeze. That was in the Palm Beach Post."
Michael Salnick represented Dippolito during the 2011 trial. He always argued there were issues with the way the jury was selected.
“There was a taint in the case from the very beginning because this was a jury who knew a lot of things about this individual that were neither relevant nor necessary,” Salnick said.
Dippolito wanted to strike the jury panel and asked for a mistrial but the court denied both requests.
"There was so much pre-trial publicity that the court should have permitted individual voir dire, or individual questioning," said NewsChannel 5 Legal Analyst Michelle Suskauer.
The District Court of Appeal agreed with Dippolito's arguments and ordered a new trial.
"There are going to be a lot of changes. I don't see the first trial and the second trial resembling each other in the least," said Grieco.
Below is a statement from Boynton Beach Police Chief Jeffrey S. Katz regarding Wednesday's ruling:
The Boynton Beach Police Department is committed to enforcing the law and ensuring the Constitutional rights of everyone with whom we interact, Ms. Dippolito is no exception. We trust our State Attorney Dave Aronberg and his team to present this case and represent the best interests of our community. We believe we have done our part and will continue to cooperate with what we believe will be a dispassionate and just judicial process. I remain very proud of the fine work performed by our officers and detectives on this case.