Illinois killer sentenced to death for 5 California murders
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SANTA ANA, Calif. — An Illinois killer convicted of murdering five women in Southern California was sentenced to death on Friday.
An Orange County Superior Court judge issued the sentence for 54-year-old former Marine Andrew Urdiales, convicted of killing five women in Riverside, Orange and San Diego counties between 1986 and 1995. The judge’s decision came after a jury recommended the death penalty for Urdiales earlier this year.
During the sentencing hearing, Urdiales apologized to his victims’ families, many of whom were in court Friday, and said he respects the jury’s decision.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said in a statement that the death penalty was the only just punishment for Urdiales.
“When you think about the serial killings and terrible things he did, it’s hard to think of Urdiales as a person — he’s a human monster,” Rackauckas said. “He doesn’t deserve to be in the planet with the rest of us.”
Urdiales previously was sentenced to death for killing three women in Illinois in 2002, but that sentence was commuted to life without parole after that state barred the death penalty.
Authorities said Urdiales, who moved to Southern California as a 19-year-old Marine, killed four women while in the military and a fifth while vacationing in Palm Springs in 1995.
He attacked 23-year-old Robbin Brandley, a volunteer usher, after a piano concert at an Orange County community college in 1986 and fatally stabbed her 41 times in the parking lot. Two years later, he picked up Julie McGhee, a 29-year-old working as a prostitute, drove her to a remote area, had sex with her, shot her in the head and left her body in the desert, authorities said.
Charles Erwin, whose 18-year-old daughter Tammie was fatally shot in the head after Urdiales picked her up and drove her to a remote area of Palm Springs, talked in court about the severe impact her death has had on him.
Urdiales “not only killed my daughter, but he killed me inside,” Erwin said, according to prosecutors. “This has ruined my life. It has turned my physical being into pieces, my mental being into pieces.”
The California murders went unsolved for years until Urdiales was arrested after he returned home to Illinois.
Authorities stopped Urdiales in 1996 and found a gun in his truck, prosecutors said. That weapon was matched the following year to the one used to kill the Illinois women.