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Jury recommends death penalty for ex-Marine convicted of serial killings

Former Marine was found guilty of murdering five SoCal women. (CBS Los Angeles/YouTube)
June 14, 2018

A jury this week recommended the death penalty for a former Marine who was convicted May 23 in California of killing five women.

Andrew Urdiales, 53, was convicted of murdering five women between 1986 and 1995 in Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties.

Previously, he had also been sentenced to death in Illinois for murdering three women there, but he was re-sentenced to life without parole after the state banned the death penalty.

Urdiales was tried for the five California killings in 2011, which resulted in an Orange County jury eventually calling for the death penalty.

His sentencing is set for August 31.

While the death penalty is legal in California, the state has not executed anyone in more than 12 years. Hundreds of people have been sentenced to death, but there has been a federal moratorium in place for executions in California since late 2006 due to concerns related to lethal injection.

Urdiales’ attorney, Denise Gragg, argued that he lacked self-control due to complications related to fetal alcohol syndrome, and brain and psychological tests revealed that he has symptoms of the condition.

Gragg claimed that her client’s mother was a steady drinker who continued to drink through the pregnancy. In addition, she said that Urdiales experienced abuse throughout his childhood, which had a permanent impact on his mental stability. As an adult, he has had issues with managing his anger and emotions, she said.

The attorney pointed out that while her client lacked self control as a civilian, he performed well in the structured environment of the Marine Corps.

Urdiales told investigators that most of the murders were preceded by arguments and other issues with the women. His lawyer added that he wasn’t consciously present during the murders.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy wasn’t convinced by Urdiales and his attorney, and he argued that the jurors should consider the impact of the murders on the families of the victims.

He also argued that he believes Urdiales possessed the ability to control his anger but instead chose to attack the women due to sadism and misogyny.

“This is his hobby. He’s doing this for fun,” Murphy argued.

Murphy felt there isn’t enough evidence to prove that Urdiales was the victim of child bullying or abuse.

Jennifer Asbenson is one of the survivors of Urdiales’ attacks.

“He deserves to be gone… He’s not capable of anything good,” Asbenson said.

Despite there not being any executions in more than a decade, California voters have rejected two initiatives in 2012 and 2016 to repeal the death penalty by popular vote.