COVINGTON -- It has been four years since friends and family lost 48-year-old Mario "Chip" Scramuzza, Jr. to a murder-for-hire scheme that left him strangled to death in his home, but Wednesday loved ones got a little closer to closure when Gina Scramuzza, the victim's wife, pleaded guilty to her part in the plot.
Valerie Dirks, the victim’s sister, said, “It doesn't just affect our life, it affects to other side too. We still have a nephew who has not only lost his father, but today, officially truly has lost his mother. And that hurts us."
After Scramuzza entered her first-degree murder plea through tears and shackles, the family gave a victim impact statement, saying, “This has been a long drawn out process for us, for his son, for his mother, for his father who died over this."
The family added, "We miss him every day. We want her to think about him every day for the rest of her life."
Scramuzza defense attorney says the whole case is a tragedy. "We were able to save her life and we're pleased with that,” said attorney Marion Farmer, “It’s just a sad day for everyone concerned in this case.”
Two other suspects in the case have already had their day in court; one pleaded guilty to manslaughter, the other faces life in prison after being found guilty of first-degree murder.
More than family members have been affected by this case and Wednesday's plea. Scramuzza was also a first responder at St. Tammany Fire District 3 in Lacombe.
"I believe on behalf of St. Tammany Fire District 3 that we're all glad that this has come to a close," said Assistant Fire Chief Patrick Sicard.
With the hope that soon the focus can just be on Mario's memory.
Court records show the fourth and final suspect in the case, Carlos Rodriguez, is scheduled for trial next month.