WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) --The defense team for Dalia Dippolito switching gears in the Palm Beach County woman's second murder-for-hire trial. Her defense is no longer about a reality TV show 'acting career,' but saying a rogue department is to blame.
In opening statements, defense attorneys called the Boynton Beach Police Department a 'rogue' agency, saying officers tricked and pressured the informant, then neglected to record all calls between the defendant and informant.
“If this was a fair trial in a level playing field from the police department, guess what you folks would be listening to, 575 audio recordings so we can get to the truth," said Attorney Brian Claypool as he spoke to jurors.
A video recording between Dippolito and an informant with the Boynton Beach Police gave jurors the first insight into interactions that allegedly led up to the hire of an undercover police officer posing as a hit man.
"Like I'll go to Boca, or I'll go somewhere else," said the voice of Dippolito in the video. "Get like an alibi," said the voice of her former lover also the informant for Boynton Beach Police Department.
In the video, Dippolito is heard saying she brought 12-hundred dollars. Before prosecutors played the audio recordings, the state's opening statement instructed jurors to pay close attention to what is being said.
"Pay really close attention to what she says, to her intent, and her confidence that this has to be done and I am absolutely sure I want this guy killed. Listen to her words," said Prosecutor Craig Williams.
Jurors were asked to leave the courtroom several times as defense attorneys objected to evidence played in court, showing subtitles in a video that the court has no transcripts for.
Boynton Beach Police's lead detective on the case, Alex Moreno, was on the stand for more than 3 hours. He said the informant, Mohamed Shihadeh, approached officers about the alleged murder-for-hire plot.
"He provided us with the information so we just began to conduct the investigation from the beginning," said Moreno.
In a recording, Dippolito is heard telling Shihadeh the hit man could take her husband out when he goes to the bank to withdraw 10-thousand dollars.
“So what I'm trying to tell you is that (expletive) um, our friend or whatever hooks up with him for (expletive) coffee like you could get a piece of that is what I’m trying to say to you," said the voice of Dippolito in a recording played in court.
Attorney Brian Claypool says the department manipulated the investigation because of it's involvement with the "COPS" TV show.
"Did you contact Mike Dippolito and let him know 'hey your wife is going to kill you', you ever do that? Claypool asked Officer Moreno.
"Yes, we did," said Moreno.
"You did that when when the COPS TV show was filming?" asked Claypool.
"No, we did that the initial, when she arrived at the scene before, before she arrived at the scene we made contact with him and yes "COPS" was there," added Moreno.
The defense team is trying to prove that the Boynton Beach Police Department was pressuring the informant, even though Moreno said Shihadeh never told him he did not want to be involved.
Claypool questioned the integrity of the investigation, getting Officer Moreno to admit that not all calls between Dippolito and Shihadeh were recorded.
"And there is a potential for the investigation to have been compromised because of the fact that we don’t have audio recordings of all phone calls between Mr. Shihadeh and Ms. Dippolito?" asked Claypool.
"There's always a potential of course," added Moreno.
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