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       August 21, 2011 4:15 PM

 The Murder Checklist


Liz Marinello had a lot on her mind as she left her weekly psychotherapy appointment in Metairie, Louisiana. She was in the midst of an acrimonious divorce. Weeks earlier her husband had had her arrested on a domestic battery charge—a charge she denied—and two days later, her former husband had filed for custody of their daughter. Beyond the sunlit parking lot, traffic was heavy on the afternoon of August 31, 2006. When Liz reached her car, a scruffy-looking bearded man walked up to her and shot her twice in the face.

Mary Elizabeth "Liz” Marinello, 45, died the next day in the hospital. Police at first believed she was the victim of a robbery gone awry, but after gathering information about her messy divorce, they began to focus on her husband, Vince Marinello.

A well-known public figure in New Orleans, he had been a sportscaster for more than 24 years for a local TV station. At the time of the murder he was hosting a sports talk show on a local radio station.For six days, investigators tried to figure out how someone that well-known could execute his estranged wife in broad daylight and escape undetected.

On the September 7, police charged him with second-degree murder. New Orleans area residents were stunned. Marinello denied the charges, saying he had an alibi: at the time of the murder, he had been with friends in Jackson, MS, watching a New Orleans Saints pre-season game on TV. But Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee believed they had the enough evidence to convict him.

A Security Video, Witnesses, and a Weapon

Videotape from a security camera outside the office where Liz had her therapy session showed a bearded man pacing the parking lot for 25 minutes. When Liz came out, the man shot her twice in the head. Witnesses told police they saw a scruffy man with a bushy beard pedal a bicycle out of the parking lot. Other witnesses said they saw a man put a bicycle into a white vehicle parked a few blocks away. Vince Marinello owned a white Ford Taurus.

A costume shop dealer told police Marinello had bought a fake mustache from him; when asked if he needed a beard, Marinello said he already had one. A local gun dealer told them that in July Marinello had asked him to test-fire a .38-caliber pistol, the type used to shoot Liz. The dealer said he test-fired the pistol and sold Marinello some Nyclad bullets, the same type found in the victim. Police obtained the test-fired bullet for ballistics analysis. Marinello denied owning such a gun, but when police questioned the couple who had confirmed Marinello’s alibi, they admitted he arrived later than they first said.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for Marinello’s Katrina-ravaged home and the FEMA trailer parked out front where he had been living. There, they hit paydirt. Detectives searched the trailer and found what appeared to be a murder checklist. A map of the neighborhood where it took place was on the back. The list said: burn the clothes, paint the bicycle, discard the mustache, throw the gun in the river, and "act normal.” Police never found the gun, bicycle, mustache or clothes. However, the man who had confirmed Marinello’s alibi told police his wife had given Marinello a .38-caliber revolver from their New Orleans home (also destroyed by Katrina). According to Sheriff Lee, the woman told police "she didn’t give him the gun but that he knew where it was.” She told them where it was hidden, but when police searched for it, it wasn’t there.

A Tangled Marital History

Police would not speculate on a motive for the murder, but Liz’s family believed he killed her to keep her quiet. Nine months into their marriage, Liz found out Vince was paying some of his ex-wife’s expenses from their joint checking account. She also discovered that at the time of their marriage, his divorce from his previous wife was not yet final. On July 25, 2006 Liz filed a petition to annul the marriage. Asked about the domestic dispute on May 29, 2006 in which Vince alleged Liz attacked him, Liz’s mother said when she saw her daughter a week later, her arms were bruised. "She stood up to him,” her mother said, adding that Liz said Vince was the aggressor, but she fought back. Her mother wasn’t surprised about the "murder checklist.” That’s how he prepared for his talk shows, she said. "He made checklists all the time.”  

 High Bail and a Murder Trial

Unable to make the $750,000 bail, Vince Marinello remained in jail until the trial in December 2008, which was moved to Lafayette Parish due to pre-trial publicity. He took the stand in his own defense, but on December 13, the jury, after deliberating 90 minutes, found him guilty. [At left, entering court, TV cameras]

Stripped of his silver hairpiece, he shuffled into the courtroom in an orange jumpsuit for his sentencing in January 2009. Someone in the courtroom whispered: "He looks like the devil.”

He expressed no remorse or words of condolence to his former in-laws.In a victim impact statement, Liz’s younger sister said: "I hope you find the rest of your days as empty and painful as you have made ours without Liz.” During the trial Marinello tried to place suspicion on Peter Caruso, Liz’s former husband, but Caruso took the stand and said: "You are a liar and a murderer.”

Judge Conn Regan said he found Marinello’s testimony unworthy of belief and sentenced him to life in prison. Calling his lack of remorse appalling, Assistant D.A. Tommy Block said: "His behavior during the trial and subsequent to his conviction was characteristic of his inflated ego and unbridled arrogance.”

A week later, Marinello suffered a heart attack. After remaining in a New Orleans hospital until February 3, 2009, he was returned to state prison. On March 3, 2009 he was transferred to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. In October 2010, a three-judge appellate panel upheld the second-degree murder conviction. At this writing, he remains at Angola.

For more details on this and other cases, see DARK DEEDS, Volume One  http://susanfleet.com/darkdeeds-v1.html#.UubLSrQo4dU

Louisiana ranked first in female homicides

Using data provided by the FBI, the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence reported in June 2010 that Louisiana ranked # 1 for domestic homicides. The state’s female homicide rate, 2.53 per 100,000, was nearly double the national average. According to the report, 90% of the homicides were committed by someone the victim knew, 55% of them by an estranged husband or boyfriend.   


Marinello murder: New Orleans Times-Picayune, articles September 2008 to October 2010.

Female homicide report: www.kplctv.com

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[ Posted by Myrna Griffith, August 24, 2011 5:51 PM ]
     Sounds a bit like Key West stuff. Amazing how some folks think they can do anything they want.

[ Posted by admin, August 24, 2011 6:07 PM ]
     Yeah, and some of them are not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier. However, this doesn't change the sad fact that Liz's daughter will grow up without a mother.


[ Posted by Sandra McLeod Humphrey, August 27, 2011 4:31 PM ]
     I'm a "list person" myself, but from now on, I think I'll view my checklists a little differently. As I began reading this,I initially thought I was reading an excerpt from a novel and then, as I realized it was factual, I was pretty much stunned.
Looking forward to your next post!

[ Posted by clar, August 27, 2011 4:36 PM ]
     Followed you here from linked in. Very interesting post. Something different. So sad to learn about this part of society. Am surprised of Louisiana's homicide's rate. Would have thought it would be Florida or Mississippi.
Thanks for enlightening me.

[ Posted by admin, August 28, 2011 8:18 AM ]
     Hi Sandra, thanks for commenting. When compiling these cases I try to be a bit less "reportorial" and add some suspense and drama to draw people in. Having said that, however, I do agree that some of these cases are appalling and terrifying.


[ Posted by admin, August 28, 2011 8:20 AM ]
     Hi Clar, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. The Louisiana homicide rate refers specifically to domestic homicide, which is even more appalling. My previous post in that category was a case that also happened in Louisiana.


[ Posted by Richard, September 21, 2012 7:02 AM ]
     What a weasel. Guys like this don't just go bad one day. They're rotten all their lives. He's been lying to friends and stealing from his mom all his life. He's going to get to the joint and try some weasel move and get one-way ticket for a flight off the top tier.Happy landing.

[ Posted by admin, September 21, 2012 7:59 AM ]
     Thanks for the comment, Richard.
That was pretty much the opinion of most New Orleans residents. He gamed the system most of his life, married her before his divorce from his previous wife was final, lied about that and then decided he didn't want this to come out and "sully" his reputation. So he killed her.

And his plan was just about as "bright" as he was.

posted by SUSAN FLEET   August 21, 2011 4:15 PM  Domestic Homicide 


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