- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - The jurors hearing the case of a Florida woman accused of trying to hire a hit man to murder her husband told a judge Tuesday they are deadlocked, but he refused to call a mistrial, saying they should give their deliberations more time.

The six jurors told Judge Glenn Kelley after seven hours of deliberations Tuesday that they couldn’t agree on a verdict in Dalia Dippolito’s solicitation of first-degree murder trial. Kelley told them to come back Wednesday and try again. After jurors were sent home, Dippolito’s attorneys exchanged hugs.

“We hope that Miss Dippolito gets the justice she deserves,” one of her attorneys, Greg Rosenfeld, said outside the courthouse. Prosecutors left without comment.

If convicted, the 34-year-old Dippolito would face a possible 20-year sentence.

Earlier Tuesday, the jury asked to review the undercover recordings that are the crux of the prosecution’s case. In one tape, she tells an informant to find her a hit man. In another, she tells the undercover officer she was “5,000 percent sure” she wanted Michael Dippolito killed. Those 2009 conversations were seen by millions when shown on television’s “Cops.”

The defense contended the police investigation was skewed by the presence of the reality TV show cameras.

Dippolito was convicted in 2011 but that verdict was thrown out on appeal.

Prosecutors emphasized the audio and video recordings during the trial. In one, Dippolito demanded that informant Mohammed Shihadeh, her former lover, find her a hit man, giving him a $1,200 deposit for his trouble and to buy the killer a gun. In another, she told undercover detective Widy Jean, who posed as the would-be hit man, she was “5,000 percent sure” she wanted her husband dead. She promised to pay Jean $7,000 to carry out the killing or, as an alternative, suggested he kill Michael Dippolito outside a bank after he withdrew $10,000. Jean could then flee with the money as his payment, she suggested. She didn’t appear to shed a tear while crying after being told falsely by a detective her husband was dead.

“It was an act,” prosecutor Laura Laurie told the jury Tuesday during her rebuttal closing argument. “She was probably dancing inside. She thought she got what she wanted.” Pointing to Dippolito’s suggestion that Jean kill her husband at the bank, “she wanted her husband to finance his own murder.”

Brian Claypool, Dippolito’s lead attorney, spent the trial ripping the police investigation, calling it “evil, manipulative, corrupt, self-serving.” He said Shihadeh first told detectives Dippolito was a domestic abuse victim, and said they could have handled it simply by calling her.

Instead, he said, detectives “escalated” the investigation to impress “Cops” producers, who were arriving in town to film cases with the department. He slammed detectives for not recording dozens of phone calls and a key meeting between Shihadeh and Dippolito. He said police knew these conversations would damage their “script” by showing she was being pressured to meet with the supposed hit man.

Convicting Dippolito, he had told jurors, would reward the department’s “lying and cheating.”

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