Death Penalty Recommended for Former Marine Convicted of Killing 5 SoCal Women

A jury on Wednesday recommended the death penalty for a former Marine convicted of killing five Southern California women between 1986 and 1995.

Jurors on May 23 found Andrew Urdiales, 53, of Illinois, guilty in five murders that happened across Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office.

He was scheduled to be sentenced at the Superior Court of Orange County on Aug. 31.

OCDA said Urdiales served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1984 to 1991, during which he killed one woman in Orange County, two in Riverside County and one in San Diego County.

In 1986, Urdiales drove from Camp Pendleton to Saddleback College in Mission Viejo and approached 23-year-old Robbin Brandley at a parking lot, OCDA said. He stabbed her 41 times with a hunting knife and fled.

In 1988, Urdiales picked up 29-year-old Julie McGhee in Indian Wells and drove to a remote area in Cathedral City, according to officials. He shot her in the head after having sex with her. Urdiales left her body, took some of her belongings and fled, OCDA said.

Less than three months later, Urdiales picked up 31-year-old Mary Ann Wells in San Diego, gave her money and drove her into an alley, officials said. After having sex with her, Urdiales shot her in the head and took back the cash he gave her.

In 1989, Urdiales picked up 18-year-old Tammie Erwin and drove to a secluded area in Palm Springs, where he had sex with her, according to OCDA. He used the same gun to kill McGhee and Wells to shoot Erwin in the head and hip, officials added. He then dismantled the weapon and disposed of the parts separately.

Andrew Urdiales victims Robbin Brandley, right, and Tammie Erwin are seen in photos provided by their families.

Andrew Urdiales victims Robbin Brandley, right, and Tammie Erwin are seen in photos provided by their families.

Three years later, Urdiales drove to a bus stop and offered Jennifer Asbenson a ride to work in Palm Springs, OCDA said. The next day, he "lured" her into his car, took her somewhere isolated in the Palm Springs desert and beat and sexually assaulted her. He locked her into the trunk of his vehicle, but she was able to escape.

Urdiales moved back home to Illinois after being discharged, but he returned to Palm Springs in March 1995 for a vacation, according to authorities.  That's when he picked up 32-year-old Denise Maney and drove her to a remote area, where he sexually assaulted her before stabbing  and shooting her, officials said.

The following November, police arrested Urdiales in Indiana after they saw him in an area known for prostitution, according to OCDA. Officers discovered a firearm in his car and confiscated it because he had no permit to carry it, authorities said.  Five months later, Chicago police matched the gun to bullets recovered from the bodies of three women murdered in Illinois, leading to his arrest.

Urdiales previously received a death sentence for the Illinois killings, but the state abolished the death penalty and that sentence was reduced to life without parole, the Associated Press reported.

"He deserves to be gone…He’s not capable of anything good," said Asbenson, who recalled her escape after the jury provided its recommendation on Wednesday.

OCDA said it decided to pursue a death penalty sentence before Urdiales' extradition from Illinois to Orange County in October 2011.