UPDATE March 13, 2019:
Dalia Dippolito's prison-release date will remain Aug. 24, 2032, the Sun-Sentinel reports.
The Boynton Beach woman’s efforts to win a fourth trial failed Wednesday, March 13, when a Palm Beach County appellate court upheld her conviction. In a seven-page ruling, Judge Martha Warner rejected all of it.
UPDATE August 6, 2018:
Dalia Dippolito says she deserves a fourth trial in her notorious murder-for-hire case. Lawyers for the state say she must finish her 16-year prison sentence, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office argues the 35-year-old felon’s conviction in her third trial last year should stand. The state Friday responded to an appeal filed in March by Dippolito’s legal team in the Fourth District Court of Appeal.
The Sun-Sentinel reports that in July 2018, the appeals court dashed Dippolito’s hopes of returning home to reunite with her 2-year-old son while the appeal is pending. The court ruled it would not review Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley’s decision last August to deny bond and house arrest for Dippolito.
UPDATE July 21, 2017:
Judge Glenn Kelley sentenced Dalia Dippolito to 16 years in prison on July 21, 2017. Dippolito was convicted in June 2017 by a jury of six for a solicitation to commit murder with a gun charge from 2009.
UPDATED March 8, 2017:
Michael Dippolito and his new wife Dalia were a young couple living the good life in Boynton Beach, Florida, about an hour's drive north of Miami.
Michael Dippolito is a guy working hard to get his life in order, an ex-con fresh out of prison for running a phony investment scam.
After meeting Dalia on an online dating site he falls into a whirlwind romance.
"He called her up, made an arrangement, she showed up at his office, he liked what he saw," said reporter and crime writer Mark Ebner. "Within a short period of time he divorced his wife and he found himself married to Dalia."
Ebner worked closely with lead prosecutor Elizabeth Parker in one of the most bizarre cases in recent South Florida history. They co-authored Poison Candy - The Murderous Madam: Inside Dalia Dippolito's Plot to Kill.
"Dalia Dippolito was described to me by a court-affiliated forensic psychologist as a sociopath," said Ebner.
Ebner says Dalia is a woman who knows where she wants to go in life and wastes very little time getting there. He claims that after the honeymoon, her next destination was Michael's bank account -- to the tune of $240,000.
"She put her claws in him so fast, in a six-month time span managed to take all of Michael Dippolito's money, she managed to get his home deeded over to her," said Ebner.
According to Ebner, there's only one solution: Michael must go, dead or alive.
"The progression in trying to have him killed involved trying to set him up with having someone plant drugs on his vehicle, setting him up with scrapes with the law, trying to get him to violate his probation so that he would be back in prison for decades and she would have everything," said Ebner.
Dalia doesn't give up easy. The flowers from her wedding are still alive when court records show she approaches a former boyfriend, Mohamed Shihadeh, a part-time actor and convenience-store owner, to get advice on terminating her husband.
"She asked Mohamed if he could find her a guy who would get the job done, i.e. a hit-man," said Ebner.
Cops believe Dalia is serious. Ebner says Mohamed realizes he may be dealing with a woman who is a bit unstable. He does the right thing and pays a visit to the Boynton Beach Police Department.
Mohamed agrees to become a confidential informant, and detectives put a wire on him and a pinhole camera in the back seat of his car, then they send him off to meet Dalia with a story about a hit-man he has found to do the job.
Mohammed tells Dalia the gunman needs some money up front.
"I brought 12-hundred, like that's all I brought. I'll give you 20 once it's done," Dalia says on the undercover police recording.
"Not only do they have her soliciting the murder of her husband verbally, they had her handing Mohamed cash in order to pay a hit-man with," said Ebner. "So she was dead to rights on the solicitation right there. But it just gets deeper."
Police send in undercover officer Widy Jean, posing as a hit-man to seal the deal.
"You sure you wanna kill this dude?" Jean asks on an undercover police recording. "When it's done you're not gonna be able to change your mind."
"There is no changing my mind, I'm positive, like 5,000-percent sure," Dalia says on the recording. "When I say I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it."
She even throws in a hefty bonus to have Michael gunned down in public.
"He's going to be going to the bank on Wednesday, I don't know if that's too public for you?" Dalia says on the tape.
"He's leaving the house by 8-8:30, he's gonna go to the bank and get $10,000," says Jean.
"Her husband will be at a local bank at 10 o'clock on a certain morning withdrawing $10,000 to bring to his business partners," Ebner said. "She's saying 'I'm not giving you much up front, but guess what: If you cap my husband in front of that bank, help yourself to that 10 grand."
But the hit-man has a better idea. He wants to take Michael out at home. All she has to do is give him the keys and disappear.
"It's gonna have to be at the house. He gets two in the head. That's it. I'll take a couple of things with me, break a couple windows, make it look like a robbery that went bad," Jean says on the tape.
Dalia now believes that her husband Michael will be shot dead in the home she shares with him early on the following Wednesday morning.
"So she agrees to get out of the house. She makes the house accessible to the hit-man," said Ebner.
Police lay their trap back at the house. First they have to clue Michael Dippolito in about what's happening. He is home in bed recovering from liposuction surgery.
Outside on the street, police have already set up a true-to-life crime scene, as if Michael is already dead in the house.
Police have invited a professional TV crew from the show "COPS" to make sure they get it all on camera. When everything is ready to go, an officer on the scene calls Dalia to inform her about an incident and to get her back to the house.
A seemingly very worried Dalia arrives in minutes.
"We had a report of a disturbance at your house and there were shots fired. Is your husband Michael?" the officer asks Dalia. "OK, I'm sorry to tell you ma'am he's been killed."
Dalia reacts emotionally.
"Before he even gets the word 'killed' or 'shot' out of his mouth, she's got her head on his chest, she's falling over," said Ebner. "All of a sudden it gets really strange because she doesn't really have much concern for the welfare of her husband as much as she's worried about her dogs that are in the house."
Police take Dalia back to the station and sit her down.
They start by playing along, asking if her husband had any enemies who might want him dead. They bring in a special guest: undercover officer Widy Jean, still in his role as the hit-man.
And suddenly it's the cops who drop the act. They are done playing around.
"You're going to jail today for solicitation of murder, you're under arrest. That's an undercover officer. We filmed everything you did, recording everything that you did," a detective tells Dalia in an interrogation room.
"This is her mantra throughout the entire conversation. 'I didn't do anything. I didn't do anything,'" said Ebner.
She is arrested for solicitation of first-degree murder.
The decision by Boynton Beach Florida Police to release the video of Dalia being informed of her husband's "death" on Youtube could come back to haunt them.
Dalia's defense claims the whole thing was fake, a publicity ploy to get onto a reality TV show. She says she and Mohamed and even Michael himself were only putting together a tape to pitch a reality show, and that they used the cops to play along.
"And she thought it was a reality show? Where's the production company? Where's the script? Where are the actual cameras? There's none of that," said Ebner.
"This is a product of her own imagination and it's unfathomable that she thinks she can hang a defense on that," said Mark Ebner.
Her old boyfriend Mohammed, who worked as an undercover informant for the police, says it was no reality show. And Michael himself, when grilled about it on the stand, denies ever trying out for or having any aspiration to get on a reality TV show, or acting out any scenarios.
Incredibly, the defense insists that the real criminal is Michael, who set everything up get rid of Dalia.
All things considered, the trial moves along real quickly and is over in two weeks.
"Dalia Dippolito was convicted of solicitation for murder and was sentenced by the judge to 20 years, almost the maximum sentence," said Ebner. "He called her a 'monster.'"
"It was pure evil," the judge said at sentencing. "You were taking advantage of a guy that was gullible, that was in love with you, and you contrived these elaborate plans."
Micheal Dippolito is relieved -- and most of all, he's still alive.
"As far as the sentence, I'm 5,000-percent happy with it," Michael Dippolito tells reporters outside of court.
"I didn't want any of this you know, and I feel bad for her -- not in the way of, not like it's my wife I feel bad -- I feel bad for her that she's a lost person," Michael said at the time.
But -- like a lot of reality shows. this one has a twist.
Dalia's attorneys come right back and file an appeal. Her attorneys say because the video released publicly by police was such a YouTube sensation that some of the jurors may have seen that tape and formed an opinion on her guilt. They also claim the jurors were not questioned properly about the pre-trial publicity before being chosen.
And the judge agrees.
"The judge in his wisdom granted her an appeal bond and put her under house arrest, and since then, to this day, she has not served any substantial time whatsoever," said Ebner. "So here we are several years later and Dalia is in a very unique position: She's been granted a new trial."
And incredibly, at the second courtroom showdown a few months ago, the prosecution is stunned once again -- this time, with a jury and a mistrial. But they're bouncing right back. Trial number three is scheduled for June 2017.
"It's all going to go back to Square One, and this trial is going to hang on the evidence, which has been bagged, tagged, locked and waiting to convict her once again," said Ebner.
Boynton Beach Police are confident that their work will hold up in court.
A statement released to Crime Watch Daily from Boynton Beach Police Chief Jeffrey Katz reads in part: "We stand behind the principled work our detectives did on this investigation. We trust in our state attorney to successfully prosecute this case."
And so the long-running saga continues. But now Dalia figures she's earned some star treatment. She wants the conditions of her house arrest changed. That was rejected.
And a new cast member in this "dramedy" has been announced: Dalia is a new mom, with a young son now about a year old. Who's the father? That's another mystery.
How will it all end? That's up to the jury.
"This is South Florida, so anything can happen," said Mark Ebner. "But I would say I'm 5,000-percent sure she's going to get re-convicted."
Dalia was just back in court last week, as prosecutors asked the judge to institute a gag order in this case, as well as remove her lead defense attorney, arguing that her lawyers are intentionally trying to influence the jury pool. So far the judge has not made a ruling on that.