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Ex-Marine Serial Killer Who Slayed 5 SoCal Women Gets Death Penalty

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) – An Orange County judge Friday sentenced a former Marine and a Chicago triple-murderer to death for the slayings of five women in Southern California in the 1980s and 1990s.

Andrew Urdiales, 54, was convicted in May of the five killings, which occurred in Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties between 1986 and 1995. In June, the same jury recommended he get the death penalty.

Andrew Urdiales
FILE -- Convicted serial killer Andrew Urdiales in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana, Calif., in May 2018. He was convicted of murdering five women in Southern California from 1986 to 1995. (CBS2)

O.C. Superior Court Judge Gregg Prickett ensured that Urdiales was sentenced to five consecutive death sentences in case any of his individual convictions were overturned or commuted by a governor.

Jennifer Asbenson, who was attacked by Urdiales but managed to escape, said she has endured nearly daily "nightmares" and years of mental health issues because of her encounter with the serial killer, but she said after all of her research she came to the conclusion that to find peace she needed to forgive her one-time captor.

"I sincerely forgive you," Asbenson told him in court. "That doesn't mean you don't deserve the death penalty... I hope you can find God."

Charles Erwin, the father of 20-year-old victim Tammie Erwin, said he nearly died in a hospital last week from sepsis, "But I knew I needed to be strong and to be here for my daughter" and the other victims.

"The defendant not only killed my daughter, he killed me inside," Erwin said. "It tore my family apart... This has ruined my life. It has turned my physical being to pieces."

A contrite and soft-spoken Urdiales said he wanted to express his "sincere apologies" to jurors, the judge, prosecutors, victims' families and his own family for having to hear the "gory" details of his crimes.

To the jurors, he said, "I understand how they voted. If I were a juror on my case I would probably have done the same thing. There's no hard feelings."

To the victims' families, he said, "My condolences for their loss. ... That's all I can say."

It took nearly a decade for Urdiales' case to come to trial. He was indicted in December 2009 for killing one woman in Orange County, three in Riverside County and one in San Diego County. The murders occurred when Urdiales was stationed at various Marine Corps facilities in Southern California.

In 2002, Urdiales was sentenced to death in Illinois for the murders of three prostitutes there in the mid-1990s, but he was re-sentenced to life in prison after capital punishment was outlawed in Illinois.

Urdiales was first arrested in Illinois in 1996 on an unrelated charge. A gun he was carrying would help link him to the three Illinois murders.

He was extradited in 2011 to California.

Urdiales repeatedly stabbed 23-year-old Robbin Brandley on Jan. 18, 1986, after she left a pianist's concert at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo.

On July 17, 1988, he fatally shot Julie McGee in Indian Wells in Riverside County. He picked up the 29- year-old prostitute and had sex with her before shooting her in the head, prosecutors said.

On Sept. 25, 1988, Urdiales picked up 31-year-old prostitute Maryann Wells in San Diego and shot her in the head after having sex with her.

Tammie Erwin was shot three times and died April 16, 1989, after Urdiales drove her to a spot near Palm Springs and had sex with her.

Urdiales was also convicted of the March 1995 killing of Denise Maney, a 32-year-old prostitute he allegedly picked up while vacationing in Palm Springs.

During the penalty phase of trial, Urdiales' attorney, Denise Gragg, argued that brain scans and psychological tests showed her client had symptoms of partial fetal alcohol syndrome. The killer's mother was a steady drinker and imbibed when she was pregnant with Urdiales, she said.

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.

But Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy said, "This guy was not mentally ill."

"This is someone who killed these young women because he enjoyed it... If he had any remorse he would have stopped doing it," Murphy said.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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