There was a distinct turn in the murder-for-hire trial of Dalia Dippolito as the defense took over control of the courtroom Tuesday. The state had rested its case and a clear strategy is emerging from Dippolito's attorneys to put Boynton Beach Police on trial and try to prove the department botched the case from the start.
The state did not like how the defense started its case, offering objection after objection to questions the defense asked its first witness former Boynton Beach Police Sergeant Frank Ranzie. And, the jury couldn't help but notice.
Tapping pens and shaking legs, the jurors appeared anxious by lunch time. The judge played white noise every time attorneys asked to approach the bench for a private conversation.
"Was there even some reckless police work by some of your supervisors?" Attorney Greg Rosenfeld asked Ranzie. "Objection," blurted out state prosecutor Laura Laurie.
The defense questioned Ranzie who worked the case. They wanted to know more about a key meeting between a police confidential informant and Dalia Dippolito; a meeting which police say the wiretap failed, meaning there is no recording of the conversation.
"Did you have time to get a replacement wire?" asked Rosenfeld. "There was plenty of time," answered Ranzie.
Ranzie told jurors he went to the lead supervising detective about replacing the wire but did not get anywhere.
"He told me it was his investigation," said Ranzie.
"What it shows is that we have no idea of what happened for 40 minutes. That is losing control, complete control of your informant," said Rosenfeld.
Ranzie told jurors he felt there were several mistakes made during the investigation, including that every call between Dippolito and the informant should have been recorded.
"Speculation and lack of crucial evidence create reasonable doubt in this case. That's what we'll be arguing in closing arguments," said Brian Claypool, Dippolito's attorney.
During cross-examination, Ranzie made a huge but honest mistake, revealing to jurors he's testified before in this murder-for-hire case. A detail Dippolito's attorneys have been extremely careful about keeping from the jury panel to avoid any bias in the case.
The trial took a brief halt when Ranzie told jurors he was here to tell the truth like he did when he testified in 2010 as a police officer. The attorneys huddled around the judge for a few minutes, but the trial continued with the state showing another key video.
A fake crime scene was back on the big screen. It's when Dippolito is told by Ranzie that her husband is dead.
"She didn't shed a tear, you didn't see her cry, you didn't see actual tears right?" said Laurie. "No, I didn't," answered Ranzie.
The state argues the staged crime scene was set up to get Dippolito's reaction to learning her husband was dead, days after she had met with an undercover hit man to allegedly hire him for the job.
The defense argues the scene was a theater act, set up for the COPS TV show which was following the detectives on the case for an episode on the murder-for-hire investigation.
"You would agree with me though, that the schedule for the COPS television show filming changed so that they could participate and film the staged crime scene involving Dalia Dippolito?" Claypool asked the public information officer of the Boynton Beach Police Department. "So, that they could film it? Yes." said public information officer Stephanie Slater.