Ex-Marine convict faces charges in 5 Calif deaths


Andrew Urdiales, already convicted of three murders in Illinois, craned his neck to see court spectators and seemed at times to be staring straight at Reilley and her husband in the front row.

"Forty-one times she was stabbed," Reilley said after the hearing as she trembled and cried. "I didn't want to look at him. I don't know how he could do that to her."

Urdiales, 47, a former U.S. Marine, made a brief court appearance on charges that he killed Reilley's daughter, 23-year-old Robbin Brandley, and four other women while stationed at military facilities in California more than two decades ago.

Urdiales was extradited from Illinois to face five counts of murder in the killing of the women between 1986 and 1995 in Riverside, Orange and San Diego counties. Orange County is prosecuting all five murders in three counties in one consolidated proceeding.

At the hearing, he agreed to postpone entering a plea until Dec. 1. His attorney, Lewis Clapp, told the judge he had received more than 15,000 pages of discovery from the prosecution and needed more time. Clapp had no further comment outside court.

Urdiales moved to Southern California in 1984 as a 19-year-old Marine, and prosecutors allege he soon began a killing spree that went unsolved for more than a decade until his arrest after his return to his native Illinois. He killed four women while in the military, prosecutors allege, and a fifth while vacationing in Palm Springs in 1995, four years after his discharge.

Another victim escaped from the trunk of Urdiales' car in 1992 in Palm Springs and was rescued by two Marines who found her running down a remote desert road naked and bound, said Deputy District Attorney Howard Gundy. The woman, who was 19 at the time, will be called to testify in the trial's penalty phase, he said.

"We've been following this case for many years. We could try this case tomorrow if we had to," Gunday said.

Urdiales was convicted in 2002 of two murders in Illinois and a third in 2004 and sentenced to death.

Two of those sentences were commuted to life without the possibility of parole in 2002 by then-Gov. George Ryan. When Illinois banned the death penalty this year, Urdiales' third death sentence also was commuted to life without the possibility of parole.

When Urdiales was taken into custody 14 years ago, he confessed to the California murders, Gundy said.

Prosecutors say Robbin Brandley was the first of his victims in California.

She was stabbed to death on Jan. 18, 1986, as she returned to her car after volunteering as an usher at a jazz piano concert at Saddleback College.

Urdiales seemed to pick her at random after parking his car in the darkened school lot and scrambling over a fence, Gundy said.

The outgoing 23-year-old loved music and writing, was majoring in communications at Saddleback College and worked as a disc jockey, her father Jack Reilley said. When she was 18, she told her parents she was determined to start her own business.

"She wanted to be a creative force," he said. "She was the kind of person, if she was at a red light and there were five people crossing the street she'd know three of them by the time the light turned green. Everybody knew her."

More than two years after Brandley's death, Urdiales picked up 29-year-old Julie McGhee, who was working as a prostitute in Indian Wells, prosecutors said. She was shot in the head and her body was left in the desert.

One Sept. 25, 1988, 31-year-old Maryann Wells was found shot in the head in an abandoned industrial complex in San Diego.

The following year, prosecutors believe Urdiales picked up 20-year-old Tammie Erwin, who also was working as a prostitute, and shot her three times in Palm Springs.

The three women were killed with the same firearm, which Urdiales dismantled and threw away sometime after Erwin's death, according to authorities.

Prosecutors say in 1995, Urdiales returned to Palm Springs and picked up Denise Maney on March 11, 1995. She was stabbed to death in the desert outside the city.

Urdiales killed three women in his native Illinois over a four-month span in 1996 before he was arrested in November 1996 in Hammond, Ind., when he was stopped by police while loitering in an area known for prostitution.

Officers found a gun in his truck that was identified through ballistics analysis as the weapon used to kill three women in Illinois.

He began confessing to the California crimes while in custody in Illinois and investigators subsequently linked him to those murders using a similar ballistics analysis and DNA evidence from one case, Gundy said.

Urdiales could face execution in California if convicted, although District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has not yet decided whether to pursue the death penalty.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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