Serial Killer Sentenced to Death for Murders of Five Women in Southern California

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A former U.S. Marine already serving a life sentence in prison for the murders of three women in Chicago was sentenced to death Friday for the killing of five other women in Southern California.

Judge Gregg L. Prickett handed down the death penalty five times over to Andrew Urdiales, 54, for the kidnapping, sexual assaults and murders of five women in Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties between 1988 and 1995. Urdiales then moved to Chicago, where he was arrested for three killings there in 1997.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said justice had been served.

“When you think about this case and you think about the serial killings and the terrible things that happened, and you see the defendant and who he is … it’s hard to even think about him as a person,” Rackauckas said. “This is some kind of human monster with a malignant heart. The death penalty is the right thing for him. He does not deserve to be on this planet.”

Rackauckas thanked the investigators and prosecutors who helped bring the case to a conclusion.

Udriales told the court he was remorseful after listening to statements from family members of his victims, and just before receiving his sentence.

He offered condolences to the families of his victims, apologizing for his crimes. “Hearing the testimony, I understand their pain and their suffering and their loss,” he said.

Udriales said he harbored no ill will toward the jury that recommended he be sentenced to death.

“I understand how they voted. And if I was a juror in my case I probably would have done the same thing,” the serial killer said. “I have no hard feelings and I understand and respect their decision.”

The killings began in January of 1986, while Urdiales was a Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, prosecutors said.

He stabbed Robbin Brandley, 23, to death in the parking lot of Saddleback College in Mission Viejo. He shot Julie McGhee, 29, to death in Cathedral City and left her body in the desert in July of 1988. He shot and killed Mary Ann Wells in San Diego in September 1988. Urdiales then shot Tammie Erwin, 18, to death in Palm Springs in April of 1989, prosecutors said.

One of his victims survived.

Jennifer Asbenson was kidnapped, beaten, raped, locked in the trunk of Urdiales’ car and driven deep into the desert in September of 1992. She managed to free herself from the trunk and escape.

Urdiales subsequently moved to Chicago.

But the killings in Southern California continues in March of 1995, while Urdiales was visiting the Palm Springs area on vacation. There, he kidnapped and ultimately fatally shot 32-year-old Denise Maney.

Many of Urdiales victim’s were also sexually assaulted and robbed.

He was first linked to murder in 1997, when a gun seized from him by Chicago police was matched ballistically to the fatal shootings of three women in their jurisdiction: Laura Uylaki, Cassandra Corum and Lynn Huber.

DNA analysis and other investigative avenues ultimately linked Urdiales to the five California killings.

The father of victim Tammy Erwin, Charles Irwin, was among those who addressed Urdiales during the sentencing hearing.

“On April 16, 1989, Andrew Urdiales not only killed by daughter, but he killed me inside,” he said. “This has ruined my life. It has torn my physical being into pieces, my mental being into pieces.

The only known survivor of Urdiales’ violence, Jennifer Asbenson, said she was relieved by the sentence.

“I forgave him for myself, just so I could sleep better, and just so I could live,” she said.”Right now, I feel like it worked. I feel fabulous. I’m not afraid of anything.”

She added that she doesn’t believe Urdiales is truly remorseful.

“I don’t think he’s really sorry for everything he’s done, but it did put my heart at ease that he didn’t say bad, evil things, like I would expect he would,” she said.

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