Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

New Orleans Sportscaster Charged in Wife's Death

A Comforting Voice in the Storm

During the dark days following Katrina, Marinello and half a dozen other radio hosts were the only on-air voices many New Orleanians were hearing. With TV knocked out for most people, along with computers, cell phones, and everything else dependent on electricity, battery-powered radios were the only source of news and information for the tens of thousands of people still marooned in a beleaguered city that was 80% underwater. Marinello and other show hosts took call-ins from people all around the city, including local, state, and federal officials reporting on conditions in their jurisdictions. Many of the local horror stories related to the storm and its aftermath were first aired on these stations, and Marinello lent a sympathetic ear to these dreadful accounts. His voice was a familiar and comforting one to which thousands of New Orleanians turned in the crisis.

For about a year prior to the murder of his wife and the charges against him in connection with that crime, Marinello co-hosted a nighttime talk show with Mitchell from 8-10 p.m. on WWL-AM, the city's most powerful and widely listened-to radio station. He was also a mainstay at the Fair Grounds, handicapping the ponies, and cheering them on as they rounded the homestretch at the 135-year-old track, which is the nation's second-oldest.

Sheriff Harry Lee
Sheriff Harry Lee

Marinello liked to cut up and brag that he had ties to the mob, although, if he did, they were likely not that strong. He did, however, correctly boast of friends in high places. They included Harry Lee, the longtime, all-powerful, famously outspoken, "Chinese Cajun Cowboy" sheriff of Jefferson Parish (county), which lies just outside the New Orleans city limits. Ironically, it was Lee who, on September 7, 2006, had the unenviable task of arresting his friend and booking him in connection with the murder of Mary Elizabeth Marinello, the renowned sportscaster's third wife, who died within 10 hours of being shot twice in the face at point-blank range.

When the evidence was uncovered, the trail could not have led anywhere else.

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