Man pleads guilty to murder of Wallingford woman

NEW HAVEN — A day after jury selection began, a Meriden man pleaded guilty Wednesday to the murder of his girlfriend in 2011.

Luis Roman, 43, formerly of 140 S. Colony St., agreed to a 30-year prison sentence for killing Susan Mazzarella, 54, in her apartment at 19 Danny’s Way, Wallingford. Mazzerella, who was not found for several days, was strangled.

Roman, Mazzarella’s live-in boyfriend, was quickly identified as a suspect after police interviewed witnesses. Mazzarella had been the victim of two domestic violence cases involving Roman in June 2010. In the first incident, Roman hit Mazzarella in the face multiple times. In the second, Roman hit and threatened to kill Mazzarella. Roman was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison, suspended after one year, in those cases. He was released on June 20, 2011.

Roman has been held on a $1.5 million bond since his arrest on July 27,2011. Jury selection for Roman’s trial began Tuesday.

In Superior Court on Wednesday, Judge Patrick Clifford accepted the guilty plea after making Roman aware of the rights he was giving up by not going to trial. Clifford told Roman that the minimum sentence for a murder conviction is 25 years and the maximum is 60 years, and that Roman had agreed to a 30-year sentence. Roman said he understood.

Roman is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 7.

Roman confessed to killing Mazerella when speaking with police, saying he hit her after they got into an argument and Mazerella threatened to call the police. Roman told police Mazerella was struggling to breathe and he covered her face with a towel, and then was too scared to call 911. Roman slept on the couch until the next morning, court documents said.

Outside court Roman’s attorney Walter Bansley said his client has always maintained that Mazzarella’s death was an accident. Roman accepts responsibility and didn’t want to take the case to trial, Bansley said.

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