Dalia Dippolito Guilty Verdict Comes After a Reality-TV Defense Not Based on Actual Reality

Categories: Crime
When Dalia Dippolito's trial began on charges that she tried to have her husband killed, her defense attorney dropped a bombshell. Attorney Michael Salnick claimed in opening statements that Dalia's husband, Michael, had planned the whole thing in an attempt to get on reality TV.

It was a crazy defense for anyone who has watched the video of Dalia promising to pay a hit man to kill Michael. But what was odder was the trial that followed, which included no real evidence to back up the defense.

Jurors clearly didn't buy it, and it took them less than three hours Friday to
find her guilty. That's no surprise considering the wacky defense, which began during opening arguments April 26 with Salnick making promises he clearly couldn't back up.

Salnick claimed that the couple were big fans of reality TV shows like Cheaters and that Michael had prepared for his coming stardom by getting braces and liposuction. Dalia and Michael staged the whole murder-for-hire plot to get the attention they needed for their own show, Salnick claimed, and cops played right into their plan by videotaping a staged crime scene in which they tell Dalia that her husband had been shot dead.

Prosecutors called their first witness, Michael Dippolito, and Salnick spend hours grilling him on his criminal past. The only hint of the reality-TV defense came near the end of the testimony, and Michael hotly denied it.

"It's ridiculous," Michael said, shifting in the witness box and looking agitated. "We're not here because of me."

From there, jurors watched the videotape of Dalia telling the undercover cop she thought was a hit man that she was "5,000 percent sure" she wanted her husband dead. Then they watched the video of cops telling Dalia the hit had been successful, the one in which she bawled way too quickly for someone just given that kind of news. (Note to copycats: The first stage of grief is shock and denial.)

Dalia's defense consisted of three witnesses, including her mother, Randa Mohammed, who denied prosecutor's claims that Dalia was looking at funeral homes for her soon-to-be-dead husband. Salnick then called an expert in reality TV who explained that would-be contestants often do outlandish things "to become famous." A digital forensics expert followed, testifying that Dalia had done searches on her computer months earlier for how to get on reality TV.

Bob Jarvis, a legal ethics professor at Nova Southeastern University's law school, wasn't surprised by the reality TV defense. He had been following the case closely, and thought Salnick's move initially made sense.

"It's a defense that says a lot about the times we live in," Jarvis said. "I assume they had at least some basis to prove there was a reality TV connection. And really, everybody thinks they are worthy of a reality TV show these days."

Jarvis says the idea that a couple would stage a murder-for-hire plot to get on TV was reminiscent of Colorado's balloon boy or the couple that crashed a White House party, all to get on TV.

But what none of those witnesses pulled off was proving the defense Salnick promised, and many expected Dalia to take the stand and explain. Instead, Salnick rested, and jurors were clearly unimpressed with his empty defense.

What Salnick did -- promise a defense that didn't materialize -- isn't unheard of in criminal cases. But Lonny Rose, a professor at the University of Miami School of Law, says Salnick risked losing the trust of jurors by failing to come through.

"One of the cardinal rules we teach in advocacy is that you don't promise the jury something that you can't prove," said Rose, director of the law school's litigation skills program.

During closing arguments, Rose says, prosecutors could've objected to Salnick's bringing up a defense that wasn't proven during the trial. But judges often overrule such objections, giving defense lawyers leeway in their arguments.

Jarvis figures what happened in Dalia's case has happened in many criminal cases before it: Perhaps Dalia told her attorney about the reality TV defense, but then evidence at the trial didn't back it up. Dalia would have made a "terrible witness," Jarvis says, so her defense rested with little to prove her side.

Salnick didn't return a phone call to his office, and prosecutors declined to comment until after Dalia is sentenced June 16. But it's easy to speculate why prosecutors wouldn't object to Salnick's defense: He had made outlandish promises to the jury during opening statements, and during closing arguments, he was hanging himself with them.

Dippolito, meanwhile, faces up to three decades in prison for what was either a murder-for-hire plot or the worst reality-TV audition ever.

Follow The Pulp on Facebook and on Twitter: @ThePulpBPB. Follow Eric Barton on Twitter: @ericbarton.
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12 comments
Sulaymaan1
Sulaymaan1

Those cops are good.  I don't think I could have been there when she started that fake cry, because I would be laughing so hard thinking this stupid woman thinks she just got away with having her husband killed.  She just wait for the surprise we got for her.

Guestus
Guestus

She is a filthy mutt; I hope she gets 3 decades..

layla
layla

You're an idiot.

Guest
Guest

So, did Rab and Mooney quit too when Pulp left?

Parkland man
Parkland man

hey speaking of police I guess it wasn't virgin who rapped the maid in new York turns out that big guy is a lawyer,lol lawyers are suck sb it's unreal

Guest
Guest

Good Morning All!Her (staged) reaction when the police told her that her husband was killed was priceless.  But there is no joke to this...The Prosecutor called her poison candy. In another case where a wife deceived her husband, the husband was quoted as saying..."If you can't trust your wife, then who can you trust?"Off topic side note: I knew it all along... Trump bowed out for the Presidential run..when push came to shove, he couldn't handle the heat.

Johnnyrotten
Johnnyrotten

You're exactly right--she is a filthy mutt. A money hungry tramp that will be looking thrubars for a long time.

A Lawyer
A Lawyer

lots of people say that - before they need an attorney

Rosi
Rosi

One thing I need to say about "Palm Beach Police Department":SHAME ON YOU!! shame on your unprofessionalism!  Can any one explained why you call the local media? TV, etc.,  to do your duties. Wasn't this supposed to be a serious case? or are you part of the reality show in progress and then decided to aborted? Aren't you incapable of conducting your job with caution, respect,  and professionalism? Not in these case!Is evident that you have the need of becoming notorious!

Guest
Guest

And of course, I'm #1 in the morning

Parkland man
Parkland man

Your right you need a lawyer to stop a lawyer,what a scam, it's just nice to see when something really bad happens to a sb lawyer,like getting cancer or falling off a bridge or getting hit by a truck or going to prison for life and be locked up like the fn pigs they are.Lol

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