A former Marine already serving a life sentence for three killings in Chicago was sentenced to death Friday for murdering five women in Southern California, beginning with a woman at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo in 1986.
Andrew Urdiales, 53, was convicted of the Southern California killings May 23, and the same jury recommended in June that he be put to death.
Urdiales killed five women in Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties between 1986 and 1995.
He had been sentenced to death in Chicago for murdering three women there, but when the death penalty was abolished in Illinois he was re-sentenced to life without parole. He was brought to Orange County in 2011 to be tried for the five murders in the Southland.
Urdiales was convicted 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.
Jurors found true the special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and multiple murders, making Urdiales eligible for the death penalty.
Urdiales was previously convicted of killing Laura Uylaki, Cassandra Corum and Lynn Huber, who worked as prostitutes in Illinois in the mid-1990s.
During the penalty phase of trial, Urdiales’ attorney, Denise Gragg, argued that brain scans and psychological tests showed her client had symptoms of partial fetal alcohol syndrome. The killer’s mother was a steady drinker and imbibed when she was pregnant with Urdiales, she said.
That brain damage combined with a childhood of traumatic events left him with trouble managing his anger and emotions, she said. The U.S. Marine Corps veteran performed well in the structured environment of the military, she argued, but did poorly in less-stable conditions.
Urdiales told investigators that he got into spats with many of the women before he snapped and killed them. Gragg said he would dissociate at times so that he wouldn’t even be present consciously during the murders.
But Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy said, “This guy was not mentally ill.”
“This is someone who killed these young women because he enjoyed it… If he had any remorse he would have stopped doing it,” Murphy said.
Murphy noted that Urdiales had an outburst during one stage of the trial when one of his sisters testified she had been molested, but was emotionless through the horrific testimony regarding the sexual assaults and murders of his victims.
“He absolutely had no remorse,” Murphy said. “He’s a disgrace to the United States Marine Corps.”