COVINGTON, LA -- Prosecutors played a taped confession from accused killer Luis Starlyn Rodriguez-Hernandez in a St. Tammany courtroom Wednesday in which Rodriguez-Hernandez admits to going to Mario Scramuzza's home back in February 2009 "to do a burglary."
Rodriguez-Hernandez is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Scramuzza, who was choked to death in his home at 44 Green Hills Dr. north of Covington.
Rodriguez-Hernandez is the first of four suspects in the case to stand trial.
In a recorded confession, taped a few days after the murder, Rodriguez-Hernandez tells prosecutors that he and Erly Montoya-Matute, another defendant in the case, had no idea murder was planned.
"We didn't know it would be like that," Rodriguez-Hernandez said. "We didn't know it was going to happen to the man like that."
According to his taped confession, "the wife of the guy" was at the heart of the plan.
Gina Scramuzza is charged with planning the murder. Rodriguez-Hernandez told prosecutors that the wife drove them to a bank where she withdrew $1,000 and paid it to Carlos Rodriguez. Rodriguez then gave $500 each to Montoya-Matute and Rodriguez-Hernandez, according to the Rodriguez-Hernandez confession.
On tape Rodriguez-Hernandez said the wife drove them to her house to rob it, then left. When Mario Scramuzza returned home, Rodriguez-Hernandez said, Carlos Rodriguez tied him up.
According to Rodriguez-Hernandez, Scramuzza was alive when he left the house to wait in the garage for Carlos Rodriguez. He said he learned of the murder later, when he heard it on the news.
"It was just a robbery, that's it," Rodriguez-Hernandez told detectives.
By Louisiana law, if a murder happens in the commission of another crime, everyone involved in that crime is responsible for the murder, which is why Rodriguez-Hernandez is now being charged with murder.
Even though it's a first-degree murder case, St. Tammany prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.
Testimony continues Thursday.