ST. TAMMANY PARISH, LA (WVUE) - A St. Tammany Parish judge today sentenced Carlos Rodriguez to life in prison for carrying out a murder-for-hire plot.
The 45-year-old man was convicted of first degree murder in May for the 2009 killing Mario Scramuzza. The jury deliberated for just 23 minutes.
Scramuzza was strangled to death in the laundry room of his Covington home on the afternoon of February 27, 2009. His wife, Gina Scramuzza, was arrested and pleaded guilty in 2013 to first degree murder. She is serving a life sentence.
Prosecutors say Gina Scramuzza met Carlos Rodriguez while at work. She was a C.A.T. scan technician at East Jefferson General Hospital. Authorities say the two began a relationship and she complained her husband was abusive. Prosecutors say Rodriguez offered to help "get rid of him" and that Gina Scramuzza gave him $3,400 in cash to carry out the plan.
St. Tammany District Attorney Warren Montgomery said Rodriguez recruited two accomplices, Luis Hernandez and Erly Montoya. Both testified that they did not know of the murder plot and thought they were going to burglarize the house. Hernandez was found guilty of first degree murder in 2012 and received a life sentence. Montoya pleaded guilty to manslaughter and armed robbery with a firearm was sentenced to 35 years in prison in June.
The victim's sister, Valerie Scramuzza Dirks, gave a statement before today's sentencing of Rodriguez. "I spent years watching my mom grieve the loss of her son," Dirks said. "I watched my dad die of a broken heart."
Dirks also told the court about how she's had to raise her nephew, who was 13 when his father was murdered. "As a man today, that boy terribly misses his dad," Dirks said. She added that she prays she can one day forgive Rodriguez. "It's what God would want us to do," she said. "It's what I will work hard to do."
The D.A. said Rodriguez's life sentence is without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.