Mary Tutwiler

The strange tale of Vince Marinello

by Mary Tutwiler

Diehard Saints fans are as attached to their opinionated sportscasters as they are to their running backs, and have been since the inception of the Saints in 1967. There was nothing quite so local as sitting in a New Orleans neighborhood bar, drinking a Falstaff, and listening to the Ninth Ward accents of WDSU commentators Buddy Diliberto and Vince Marinello as they chewed on head coach Jim Mora when the Saints went 1-15 in 1980. That was the year Diliberto started watching games with a paper bag over his head. Outspoken, colorful, native sons, they were part of the golden years of broadcasting at Channel 6, where local sports, from winners of the daily double at the Fair Grounds to high school basketball rivalries, were as important as Archie Manning’s passing stats.

So it was certainly a shock when The Times-Picayune reported on Aug. 31, 2006, that Marinello’s wife, Mary Elizabeth, had been shot in the face in a parking lot in Metairie. But even that didn’t hold a candle to the Sept. 8, 2006, screaming headline, “Marinello Booked in Wife’s Murder.” The city was stunned and then transfixed as the bizarre details — disguises, bigamy, a to-do check list — of the alleged murder unfolded.

Two years later, Marinello will stand trial for the murder of his wife. Because of the publicity, defense attorneys felt that an unbiased jury could not be seated in New Orleans, so the judge moved the venue to Lafayette. The trial begins at the Federal Courthouse, Monday, Dec. 1. To read more of the Independent’s cover story on the strange tale of Vince Marinello, click here.