Jury Recommends Death Penalty For Madera Serial Killer

April 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A jury took less than three hours on the first full day of deliberations to recommend the death penalty for a Madera serial killer.Jose Guerrero murdered three women and attempted to murder a fourth woman during the 1990's.

It was another emotional day in court for the victims' family members. Some had previously said they would prefer Jose Guerrero be sentenced to life in prison. But after the jury recommended the death penalty, they all supported that decision.

The jury's decision to recommend a death sentence for Jose Guerrero brought no emotion from the convicted serial killer, who has sat stone faced throughout his trial. But some of his victims' family members cried quietly in the courtroom and remained emotional after walking out.

"I'm just glad this trial is over with, it's been living hell," said Jerry Prudek.

Jerry Prudek's daughter, Julia Woodley, was shot in the heart in April of 1995. Her father said he's happy the jury recommended the death penalty, but that won't erase the mental images that have haunted him since seeing pictures of his dead daughter during the trial. "The pictures I saw of Julia laying on the ground will be imprinted in my mind forever."

Woodley was one of three women Guerrero murdered in the 1990's. He also killed 22 year old Tamara Hernandez and 30-year-old Sharlene Fowler.

A fourth woman, Evelyn Estrada, survived having her throat slashed. She initially wanted Guerrero to receive a life sentence, but changed her mind after seeing graphic pictures of the other victims in court. "I'm glad he got what he deserved because it was awful what he did."

Prosecutors agree that the punishment fits the crimes. "It's not just appropriate; it's something that needed to be done for justice sake," said prosecutor Edmund Gil.

Defense Attorney Eric Greene said he wasn't surprised by the jury's decision. "No defense attorney wants to hear that their client has received the recommendation from the jury for death, but on the other hand this is a very brutal case so it's not unanticipated."

The judge is expected to hand down the official sentence on May 20th. Guerrero's defense attorney said he doesn't anticipate the judge going against the jury's recommendation, but there are still other opportunities for an appeal.

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