An already-bizarre case took an unexpected twist on December 14, 2016, when a criminal court judge declared a mistrial for Dalia Dippolito, a defendant charged with murder-for-hire. ABC News reported that the jury was deadlocked on the charges, wherein Dippolito was accused of attempting to hire a hitman to kill her husband; the proposed hitman was actually an undercover police officer. The case made headlines when it was featured on the TV show “Cops,” and when videos of the undercover operation were posted online. After hearing the evidence and deliberating for nine hours on the case, members of the jury reported to the judge that there were three votes for a guilty verdict and three for not guilty. The result is a victory for Dippolito’s criminal defense attorneys, who actively fought the charges against her.
Background of the Case: The current case is actually a retrial for Dippolito, who was arrested in 2009 in the murder-for-hire scheme. The charges stem from Dippolito’s attempt to hire the undercover agent to kill her husband, conversations which were captured on video. The office described exactly how he would commit the murder, and Dippolito replied that she was “5,000 percent sure” she wanted it done.
First Trial for Dippolito: Following her arrest, Dippolito was found guilty in 2011 on the charges for solicitation to commit first degree murder with a firearm. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but her attorneys appealed the conviction on procedural grounds. They argued that the criminal court erred by rejecting Dippolito’s request to question prospective jurors about their exposure to news about the case. The lawyers also alleged that the court mistakenly denied a motion to remove the entire jury, after members heard an allegation that Dippolito tried to poison her then-husband.
The appellate court agreed with the arguments presented by Dippolito’s attorneys and ordered a new trial, which commenced in December 2016.
Retrial Results in Mistrial: In the current case, Dippolito’s attorneys presented facts regarding a botched investigation by law enforcement. According to their arguments, the police department was more concerned about appearing on “Cops” than collecting valid, accurate evidence. The jury may have been swayed by this evidence in reaching a 3-3 deadlock, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial. The State Attorneys’ Office released a statement that they will seek another retrial in the case, and a status hearing is set for January 6, 2017.
Dippolito has her attorneys to thank for forcing a deadlocked jury in her retrial. They aggressively attacked the prosecution’s claims to raise reasonable doubt, which is required in order to sustain a murder-for-hire conviction. Defendants facing any type of violent crime charges should follower her example by retaining a criminal lawyer that will vigorously fight the allegations and present appropriate defenses. Criminal proceedings in murder cases are extremely complicated and any missteps could result in life in prison or the death penalty. Contact an experienced criminal attorney in San Diego to discuss your options or with questions about your case.
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