COVINGTON, La. (WGNO) – A St. Tammany Parish jury found Carlos Rodriguez, 45, formerly of Kenner, guilty Friday of first-degree murder for carrying out a plot with his girlfriend to kill her husband in 2009.
After a weeklong trial, the jury deliberated 23 minutes before returning the verdict against Rodriguez, who faces life in prison.
This was the fourth and final conviction in the murder-for-hire scheme that left Mario Scramuzza, a Lacombe Fire District paramedic, strangled in the laundry room of his Covington home.
Scramuzza’s wife, Gina, pleaded guilty in 2013 and is serving a life sentence for her role in the crime. She and both accomplices—Luis Hernandez and Erly Montoya—testified against Rodriguez. Luis Hernandez refused to answer questions, but prosecutors played a statement he gave to St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office detectives after his arrest.
The testimonies and recorded statements of all three painted a chilling portrait of the scheme that unfolded when Gina Scramuzza picked up Rodriguez, Hernandez and Montoya in the parking lot of the Walmart in Covington on the afternoon of Feb. 27, 2009.
She first stopped at her bank to withdraw $1,000 – $500 for each of the accomplices- and drove them to the home she shared with her husband in Covington.
Gina Scramuzza then returned to her job as a C.A.T. scan tech at East Jefferson General Hospital and left the three men in her home to wait for her husband. While waiting, Hernandez and Montoya, who said they were unaware of the murder plot and thought they were just going to burglarize the house, rounded up various electronics and other items they wanted, including even two LSU towels embroidered with the name of the couple’s then 13-year-old son, and a pet rabbit.
When Mario Scramuzza made it home, he was ambushed at gunpoint and strangled by Rodriguez, who bound Scramuzza’s hands behind his back with zip ties and strangled him with zip ties and a towel.
Gina Scramuzza broke into tears during her testimony earlier in the week when asked if she was still angry at Rodriguez after all these years.
“I ruined my life and my family,” she said. “I hurt the people I love so much, and now they hate me.”