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Jurors Recommend Death Penalty for Ex-Marine Who Killed 5 SoCal Women

Andrew Urdiales is shown in custody Friday, April 25, 1997, at Area 2 police ...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Andrew Urdiales is shown in custody Friday, April 25, 1997, at Area 2 police headquarters in Chicago.

An Orange County jury recommended the death penalty Wednesday for a former Marine who killed five women in Southern California and is already serving a life prison term in Illinois for three murders in Chicago.

Andrew Urdiales, 53, was convicted of the Southern California killings May 23. The same jury deliberated for about a day before recommending that he be put to death for each of the five murders.

Sentencing was set for Aug. 31.

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' attorney, Denise Gragg, argued Monday that brain scans and psychological tests showed her client had symptoms of someone afflicted with 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. 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.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy argued there was little evidence to prove Urdiales' childhood was as unhappy as his defense attorneys claimed. There also wasn't as much childhood bullying as the defense alleged, he said.

Murphy also argued that jurors should give greater weight to the suffering of the families who lost loved ones at the hands of the killer. Murphy argued that Urdiales was able to control his anger, but chose to attack his victims because he is sadistic and a misogynist.

Referring to the torturous sexual assault and attempted killing of another victim who managed to escape, Murphy said, "She went to hell for the entertainment" of Urdiales.

"This is his hobby. He's doing this for fun," Murphy said of the attack on the victim who escaped.

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.

– 32-year-old Denise Maney on March 11, 1995, in Palm Springs.

Urdiales was previously convicted of killing Laura Uylaki, Cassandra Corum and Lynn Huber, who worked as prostitutes in Illinois in the mid-1990s.

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