In February 2009, 20 years into an unhappy marriage with fire department paramedic Mario Scramuzza, 45-year-old CAT scan technician Gina Scramuzza had had enough. Instead of filing for divorce, however, she and her lover, Carlos Rodriguez, had a better idea — why not just kill her husband?
It was a few months before the crime, in 2008, when Gina met Rodriguez at the East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie, Louisiana. Though the two were never physically involved, she hoped their relationship would develop into something more, as told on this week’s episode of “Killer Couples” on Oxygen.
Gina Scramuzza lavished Rodriguez with expensive gifts. She bought him a cell phone so they could talk in secret, according to the New Orleans Advocate. She gave him $1,200 to help him cover child support, according to police interview recordings featured on the show. And at one point, she even bought Rodriguez a Nissan Murano — only Rodriguez wasn’t happy enough with that, so she went back to the dealership and bought him a Hummer instead, Detective Keith Canizaro told “Killer Couples,” airing Thursdays at 8/7c.
Gina and Mario’s relationship, meanwhile, continued to decline. Mario was a paramedic at the local fire department, and, according to longtime friend Lee Hinson, he spent all his off days with his and Gina’s 13-year-old son.
“Mario’s light, his sunshine in this world, was his son,” Hinson told “Killer Couples.”
Divorce would likely mean Mario spending less time with his son, which he simply did not see as an option, prosecutor Jerry Smith told “Killer Couples.” So, at Rodriguez’s suggestion, Gina turned to a more extreme solution.
She had been telling Rodriguez that her husband was abusive — and one day, Rodriguez asked if she wanted to “get rid of him,” according to the New Orleans Advocate. She said yes.
On Feb. 28, 2009, Gina Scramuzza paid Luis Hernandez and Erly Montoya $500 each to go with Rodriguez to her home in Covington, Louisiana, according to ABC News. Hernandez and Montoya did not speak English and thought they were just getting paid to rob the house. But, when Mario got home, Rodriguez ambushed him at gunpoint, tied him up and strangled him to death with a zip tie.
While rummaging around the Scramuzzas’ house, Rodriguez also found three polaroid photos of Mario’s penis, which he left in plain view at the crime scene.
When taken in for police questioning, Gina was at first reluctant to provide investigators with any details about her and Rodriguez’s relationship. When her interviewer made an offhand comment about Rodriguez’s nine-months pregnant wife, however, her attitude instantly changed.
“She looked at me, sat upright and said, you might want to get another pad,” Detective Stacey Griffin told “Killer Couples.”
Gina had no idea Rodriguez was married. Furious, she spilled all the details about their plan to murder Mario. After she got done saying all this, Griffin said, the disgruntled got up to go home, and was surprised when police told her she was being taken into custody.
Gina Scramuzza, Rodriguez, Hernandez and Montoya all went to trial for the murder-for-hire plot. Montoya was sentenced to 35 years in prison, while his three co-conspirators were sentenced to life, according to the New Orleans Advocate.
Gina had no criminal history, which may have helped spare her the death penalty, her defense attorney, Marion Farmer, told the New Orleans Advocate
“The district attorney’s office said a lot of people get married and don’t get along,” she added. “There’s a way to end that. It’s called divorce.”
Gina was sentenced in 2016 and has sought an appeal of her conviction and sentence at least twice, but has been denied each time.
For more information on this case, watch the latest episode of “Killer Couples” on Oxygen.com, and catch new episodes Thursdays at 8/7c on Oxygen.
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