A U.S. Marine Corps veteran convicted of killing eight women is a “misogynistic, sadistic monster,” who tortured one victim, who got away, “for the fun of it,” an Orange County prosecutor told jurors Thursday as he sought the death penalty.
Andrew Urdiales, 53, was convicted May 23 of murdering five women in Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties between 1986 and 1995. Jurors must now decide whether to recommend the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Urdiales’ attorneys have tried to make the case that his mother was drinking when she was pregnant with him and that he suffered from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
“I think that is a dead horse,” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy. “There is no real evidence she was drinking during her pregnancy.”
Also, Murphy argued, Urdiales did not exhibit many of the symptoms associated with the disorder and called one of the defense’s experts an “unqualified, arrogant clown.”
Urdiales deserved some credit for joining the Marine Corps out of high school, Murphy said as he noted the defendant was served in the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
“That’s a big deal,” Murphy said. “He was part of the convoy that went to Kuwait.”
But, Murphy continued, Urdiales got in trouble while in the military for a “black market” operation and was cited for a “bad attitude.”
Plus, Marines are trained to kill so they can protect innocent people, Murphy said.
“What did he do with that training? We know what he did,” Murphy said. “He’s using it to prey on the very innocents he was trained to protect.”
Murphy said Urdiales “disgraced” the Marine Corps.
Murphy also discounted defense claims that Urdiales had a troubled childhood of being bullied by classmates and abused and neglected by his parents. The prosecutor argued there wasn’t much evidence in the trial to back up the claims.
“How does that mitigate what he did?” Murphy said. “Doesn’t that mean he knows what it’s like to be physically overpowered and to be afraid?”
Murphy also recounted the testimony of Jennifer Asbenson, who escaped Urdiales’ clutches as a 19-year-old caregiver to disabled children in the Palm Springs area in 1992. She accepted a ride to work from Urdiales when she missed her bus and feared discipline for tardiness again.
“She went to hell for the entertainment of that man seated at that table,” Murphy said, pointing to Urdiales.
Urdiales was on vacation in the area when he picked up Asbenson, Murphy said.
“This is his hobby. He’s doing this for fun,” Murphy said of Urdiales’ sexual assault, kidnapping and attempted murder on the victim.
Murphy said Asbenson recounted a “near death experience” at the hands of Urdiales, who, she testified, appeared to cease strangling her so she could come around again and sustain more torture.
“Every one of these women experienced some version of this,” Murphy said of the victims.
Urdiales was convicted last month of killing:
— 23-year-old Robbin Brandley, who was attacked as she walked to her car following a concert on Jan. 18, 1986, at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo;
— 29-year-old Julie McGhee on July 17, 1988, in Cathedral City;
— 31-year-old Maryann Wells on Sept. 25, 1988, in San Diego;
— 20-year-old Tammie Erwin on April 16, 1989, in Palm Springs; and
— 32-year-old Denise Maney on March 11, 1995, in Palm Springs.
Urdiales was previously convicted of killing three women in Chicago in the mid-1990s.
Defense attorneys will begin their arguments to spare their client from the death penalty on Monday.
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