When Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation abolishing the death penalty in the state earlier this year, it spared the lives of 15 men on death row.
But one of them may not be off the hook.
Andrew Urdiales, 47, a former U.S. Marine, could be put to death if he is found guilty in the deaths of five women in Southern California.
The Orange County District Attorney’s office announced this week that it will seek the death penalty against Urdiales if he’s convicted in the murders.
“We will be seeking the death penalty for the crimes that he committed in California,” Howard Gundy, senior deputy district attorney for the Orange County D.A.’s office, told WBEZ Thursday. “The factors of aggravation, which would call for the stiffest penalty, far outweigh any of the factors in mitigation.”
Urdiales is now awaiting trial in Orange County for the deaths.
He was extradited from the Pontiac Correctional Facility in Pontiac, Illinois in late September.
At Pontiac, Urdiales had been on death row for the murders of Laura Uylaki, 25, of Hammond, Ind., and Lynn Huber, 22, of Chicago.
Their bodies were dumped near Wolf Lake which straddles the Illinois-Indiana state line near Hammond.
In 2004, Urdiales was sentenced to death again for the 1996 murder of Cassandra “Cassie” Corum, 21, of Hammond.
Prosecutors say Urdiales dumped her body in the Vermilion River in Pontiac.
But the change in Illinois law in March abolishing the death penalty commuted Urdiales’ sentence to life without the possibility of parole.
Urdiales will be arraigned in Orange County on Dec. 1for the additional five homicides. Of the five homicides, three took place in Riverside County, one in San Diego County, and one in Orange County.
Gundy said it was decided to consolidate the five cases with the trial happening in Orange County.
Prosecutors say the killing started back in 1984 when Urdiales was a 19-year-old Marine stationed in Southern California until his discharge in 1991. That’s when he returned to the South Chicago neighborhood where he grew up.
Four of the five California victims are described as prostitutes ranging in age from 21 to 32.
His first California victim was 23-year-old Robbin Brandley who had been volunteering as an usher at a concert. Prosecutors say Urdiales wanted to kill a random person so he sought Brandley out following the concert and as she walked to her car. He’s alleged to have stabbed her 41 times with a six-inch hunting blade.
The case was cracked open in November 1996 when Urdiales was arrested by police in Hammond, Ind., for loitering in his truck near an area known for prostitutes. Police confiscated a handgun which he was not licensed to carry.
Ballistic testing in April 1997 by Illinois police found the gun confiscated by Urdiales was the same firearm used to shoot and murder three of the victims.
Urdialeswas soon after arrested for the three murders.